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4 Nissan

SPECIAL RESOURCES:  We provide by the following links wonderful Pesach Handbooks for your distribution--as made available by Ohr Somayach and Partners in Torah--Mi KeAmcha Yisrael!!


 Ohr Somayach http://ohr.edu/pesachbook/org.php

Partners in Torah http://www.partnersintorah.org/jewish-holidays/passover



BIRCHAS HAILANOS REMINDER!  May we suggest that you join with family or others to make this uplifting annual bracha?  If you have not already made the bracha--don’t delay--and be mezakeh others with a warm reminder!



SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY:  The opportunities for us to recite “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem” and “V’Sein Tal U’Matar L’Vracha” in 5777 are becoming fewer and fewer.  Please remember to make them really count!



TEFILLAH AHL HAGEULAH: We remind our readers that as we are in the period between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah from Mitzrayim, it is certainly an auspicious time for the final, everlasting Geulah.  Accordingly, we provide by the following link to the Hakhel website the Tefillah Al HaGeulah, to be recited with Kavannah--especially during the month of Nissan!   The Hebrew version by clicking here or the English version by clicking here.



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


A. At a Hakhel shiur, HaRav Belsky, Z’tl, suggested that one search for chometz as if he were searching for a valuable coin or piece of jewelry--would you  shrug your shoulder and not look here or there, or not make the extra effort when you realize how much is at stake? Go for the Gold!


B. At the same shiur, HaRav Belsky ruled that one could simply  place his stove top grates into the self-cleaning oven to kasher them, rather than subjecting them to intense heat via placement of a blech on top of the stove.


C. At the Seder, two out of the 15 Simanim (more than 10%) are comprised of washing of the hands--U’Rchatz and Rachtza.  Clearly, this is a meaningful and significant activity, and should be viewed as much more than a ministerial or perfunctory act that we do daily. To get ready for the Seder (if you wash Mayim Achronim you will actually wash a third time), may we suggest that rather than thinking about nothing too important or letting your mind wander when washing over the next 10 days, that with each pour of water over each hand you think--”Thank you Hashem! Thank You Hashem!” and think of something else you are thankful to Hashem for with each pour! Having difficulty starting? You can start as far back as Yetzias Mitzraim, and as close by as having the ability  to pick up the cup and pour... and there is a lot--a lot--in between to be thankful for! Then--when it comes to the Seder--let your thanks reach a crescendo!




FROM THE OUTSTANDING TORAH TAVLIN HAGGADAH “Rav Zalman Guttman, Shlita, writes that Emunah means knowing that Hashem is the Creator and Supervisor of every single action in this world, and that everything He does is for the good! All negative traits, such as anger, frustration and kefirah, can be traced back to Paroh, the one who said: “Who is Hashem that I should listen to His voice?” (Shemos 5:2) Hakhel Note: You may want to reflect upon this teaching and its significance a bit further.



UNGETZOIGENKEIT! Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita (in the name of HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita) brought an EXTREMELY POWERFUL Kedushas Levi relating to this time of year. The heilige Kedushas Levi studied Jews scurrying about with so many Mitzvos before Pesach, and wondered to himself HOW IT COULD REALLY BE that the Moshiach did not arrive.  He was left with one conclusion--it must be due to our Ungetzoigenkeit--our being too on-edge, too tense, too irritable, too obviously sleep deprived, too reaction-filled, too short-fused, to make the Millions of Mitzvos performed at this time of year as pure and pristine as they needed to be to turn the tide and bring us the Geulah Sheleima.  This week, as our To-Do list gets longer and our time to accomplish it gets shorter, as there is legitimate basis for concern that there is so much to get done with the clock ticking, as not everyone around seems to be ‘pulling their weight’ the way they should, as the food prices seem to match the gas prices--let us remember that--at least according to the Kedushas Levi, we can do our part in finally BRINGING US HOME by not losing ourselves, by keeping a perspective, by the judicious uses of a Kepitel Tehillim before doing this errand and a Kepitel Tehillim before speaking to that person, by maintaining a soft tone and sharing thoughtful and kind words or compliments, by not responding to a shout or a sarcasm with something in kind, by helping to calm another, all of which will serve to project our Mitzvos on the very special, direct and precise course to Geulah.  Let’s try to keep a record (or at least a mental note) over the next week of all our Geulah-bringing actions and reactions that would make the Kedushas Levi so proud.  The time is not next week or the following one--the Time is now!





The Middos Journal


Ma’avir Ahl HaMiddos (this could include anger as well): ___________________________


Kiddush Hashem:______________________________________________________________


V’Rachamav Ahl Kol Ma’asav:___________________________________________________


Sever Panim Yaffos:____________________________________________________________




Chesed in Private:______________________________________________________________



THE RIGHT TIME OF YEAR:  Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita points out that Tosfos reconciles the fact that according to Rebbe Eliezer the world was created in Tishrei, and according to Rebbe Yehoshua the world was created in Nissan as follows:  In fact, there is no disagreement, Hashem’s ‘Machshava’, His thought to create the world originated in Tishrei--but the Ma’aseh, the Creation itself, was actualized in Tishrei.. Based upon the teaching of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, Rabbi Schneider explains that in Tishrei we follow the lead of Hashem and work upon our Machshavos--our thoughts.  We are busy with Hirhurei Teshuva, with thoughts of self-improvement, and intent to change over the coming year.  Nissan, on the other hand, is the time that the world was actually created--it is the time of Ma’aseh, of deed, of action.  All of the Chometz removal, all of the pre-Yom Tov preparation--the Matzah, the shopping, kitchen, the Seder preparation , the Yom Tov foods--this is exactly the Avodah of this time of year!  We are fulfilling the map and direction established by Hashem at the time of creation itself.  So as you toil, as you work, as you prepare and perform the Mitzvos--recognize and appreciate--be glad of heart and regale--in your fulfilling the LeMa’aseh of creation--exactly at the right time of year!



A SPECIAL TEFILLAH! HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl (brought in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim) brings a meaningful Tefillah to be recited before entering the streets around us which do not honor or at least follow the same principles that we have been taught.  This very same Tefillah can in fact be recited when it is necessary for us to turn to the Internet--which in many cases is essentially bringing the streets into your office or home office.  This is the concise and potent Tefillah that he brings:  Hineni Holech Begai Tzalmovess Bemakom Mesukan.  Hoshieini MiYetzerHora U’MaiChatoim U’MaiAvonos, U’Bifrat [specify here any Chait that may be an issue based upon the circumstances]. HaRav Friedlander then suggests that the following Pasuk from Tehillim (119:37) be added:  Ha’avair Einai Mair’os Shav--Bidrachecha Chayeini--Avert my eyes from seeing futility; in Your ways give me life!  Hakhel Note:  Although we have not yet found anyone who has composed a Tefillah Before Internet Use, our solution above based upon HaRav Friedlander may be a good start.  One thing is certain--for one who must use the Internet, Tefillos are definitely in order.  There is no better time to add on this ‘prayer before a search’ than the month of Nissan--in which Tefillah played such a vital role not only in the salvation of an individual--but in the salvation of our entire nation!



WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES: The following Halachos are 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 is 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 to eat. 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 there 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).





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.



THE HALACHOS OF SECRETS:  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 everyday 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).”


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



3 Nissan

ZERIZUS!: One of the hallmarks of Chodesh Nissan and Pesach is its call for Zerizus.  Making sure that one’s home is free of Chometz well in advance of the holiday and making sure that one’s Matzah does not rise well in advance of the time that it could--are key aspects of our Pesach preparations.  Indeed, and almost symbolically, it is fascinating that the Korban Pesach is brought during the day--even though it can only be eaten later that night--and once the time actually comes that we can consume it at nightfall, the short Mitzvah window is only until dawn or even only Chatzos.  It is no small wonder then that the Halachic principle of Zerizin Makdimin LeMitzvos--those who are Zerizim, those who view Mitzvos with energy and enthusiasm, make sure to perform Mitzvos early is actually taught in Mesechta Pesachim (4A)!  Similarly, Chazal teach (in Pesachim 5:7) that although the Torah mandates that the Korban Pesach is to be brought in the Bais Hamikdash in Three Groups--during which time the Group recited the Hallel and repeated it if need be until the entire Group had completed bringing their Karbanos, the last of the Three Groups was always so small that they would never even get up to ‘Ahavti’ (near the beginning of Hallel) and all of the Karbanos were already completed!  Yes, there were supposed to be Three Groups--but the Torah was certainly not requiring YOU to be part of that Third Group.  We may additionally suggest that Chazal especially point out that the Third Group ‘never reached Ahavti’--perhaps symbolizing that their love to HaKadosh Baruch Hu may have been somewhat lacking as demonstrated by their dilatory ways.  We must try to use this Month to act with a true Zerizus standard and yardstick--measuring our Mitzvos by the zeal and dedication by which they are performed.  We note that even though we are permitted to eat Chometz on all other days of the year besides Pesach--there is one Chometz Prohibition that does stay with us the Entire Year.  It is--Mitzvah Haba Leyodecha Al Tachmitzenah--A Mitzvah that Hashem avails you of --don’t let it sit there--don’t let it wait--don’t let it rise--perform it and immediately enjoy its everlasting mark!  Let us begin now with a rededication to prompt and timely Mitzvah Performance--and taste the fresh, tasty and crisp Matzah all year round!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.) relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! The following are culled from the Notes of the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  The Steipeler would give treats to the children before the Seder began, so the children would get excited and begin to ask questions as to what was happening. 


B.  Before Kiddush, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, would especially advise all those at the Seder that they should have in mind that the bracha of Shehechiyanu covers all of the Mitzvos of the night. 


C.  The Mishna Berurah rules that when drinking each one of the four kosos, one should drink a rov revi’is from the kos at one time.


D.  The Mishna Berurah rules that if one does not have zero’ah for the ke’arah, he can take any type of meat.  If one does take the zero’ah, it should have some meat on it, as it is zecher l’korban Pesach.  The Chayei Adam writes that it is a bizuy mitzvah to throw out the zero’ah; instead, it should be eaten on the morning of the second day (or in Eretz Yisrael, on the first day) as part of the Seudas Yom Tov.


E.  The egg for the ke’arah need not be roasted; it can be cooked as well, for it is zecher l’korban Chagigah--which could be roasted or cooked.



TODAY!  Yesterday, the second day of Nissan, the Parah Aduma was burned under the auspices of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohein.  Today, the third day of Nissan, is the first day that the unparalleled and purifying Parah Aduma waters were first sprinkled on anyone ever!  Accordingly, it is a day that holds special tahara capability, individually and for our nation, and we should be sure to use that capability by purifying ourselves in some way.  The Luach Davar B’Ito points out that if there is anything that you can think of that could use some tahara--the time is extremely auspicious, and the opportunity is very great.  For some on-point ideas, we refer you to Chapters 16 and 17 of the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim (which is on the topic of tahara).  You may think that if so few know about this, can it really be that effective?  Please consider, on the other hand, that when there are fewer customers purchasing, there will be much greater selection, and much better pricing!



MORE ABOUT TODAY!  We have already reached the third Nasi today--the Nasi of Zevulun, Eliav ben Chailon.  Although Zevulun was the tenth son of Yaakov Avinu, he merited to bring the third Korban as Nasi.  Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:17) teach that the “tenth” son became the “third” son here--a 300% plus prioritization--for one reason alone:  It was because “Shechibav Es HaTorah VeHirchiv Yodov Lefazer Es Mamono LeYissocher--his cherishing of Torah caused him to open his hand wide and support his brother Yissocher in his Torah studies.”  With this wise and generous act, he fulfilled the words of the wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech, who teaches in Mishlei (18:16), “Matan Adam Yarchiv Lo, Velifnei Gedolim Yanchenu--A man’s gift will make room for him, and it will lead him before the great.”  In fact, Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah, ibid.) even conclude with respect to Zevulun that “Godol Hame’aseh Yoser Min Ha’oseh--he was greater than Yissocher because, but for him, Yissocher would not have been able to study, and would not have produced 200 leaders of the Sanhedrin.  It would appear to be especially auspicious to write a check to a Kollel member or to a Kollel today.  Additional Note:  The Navi teaches that ‘VeShaveha B’Tzedaka--those who return will be redeemed with the giving of Tzedaka.  In this season of Geulah we should try to give whatever we can!


ACCORDINGLY, Please help Yad Eliezer provide vouchers for thousands throughout Eretz Yisrael. This year Yad Eliezer has a three for one match for divorced women.  ’For every dollar you give, we get $3!’  There is also a 2 for 1 match for widows. Avreichim have a 2 for 1 match (up to $300,000).  Please call Mrs. Tropper at 718-258-1580 with your generous [could be tripled!] contribution, or please go to www.yadeliezer.org to donate to the Pesach campaign and please add which matching funds you are choosing in the comments section. . 



THIS MONTH ONLY!  The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh highlights for us how important the Torah considers this month, the month of Nissan.  The Torah uses the words (Shemos 12:2):  “HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem Rosh Chadashim”, and then continues:  “Rishon Hu Lachem LeChadshei HaShana”--this month to you is the first of the months, the first of the months is it to you…. There is, the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh teaches, no redundancy here.  The Torah is emphasizing that the inherent powers of this month are so great that it was intentionally made the first month of the year.  It is up to us, then--Lachem--to unleash these powers.  If we begin to characterize our Pesach work as a ‘mitch’, or a bother; if we express our frustration and cynicism at high prices, or complain of other Pesach-related ‘hardships’, then we are defeating the Lachem which the Torah reminds us about twice in the same Pasuk.  It is with a sense of joy and privilege that we should approach the next eleven days leading us to Pesach--a Chag upon which our souls became eternally free, even if our bodies may otherwise be bound in a temporary (hopefully at this point, very temporary) Galus Edom.  There is a related point, as well.  This year, there appear to be so many individuals and organizations in need--many more than in previous years.  There are those who are making a yeoman’s effort to keep their Ma’os Chitim and Tzedaka donations on par with previous years.  Others, may, however, fall short because of the financial position they are in.  If one finds himself in a better economic position this year than last, he should realize that Hashem is empowering and directing him to give more than in previous years--to help make up the slack of others.  Especially in these times in which we look to HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s Tzedaka and Chesed to save us in Eretz Yisrael and the world over, we should view the extra Tzedaka collectors and needy organizations as a means given to us by Hashem for us to exercise Tzedaka and Chesed.  Why?  The Pasuk states:  “VeNassan Lecha Rachamim VeRichamcha VeHirbecha.”  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, explains that this Pasuk teaches that Hashem will give us opportunities for Rachamim and that if we exercise them, He will, Middah K’Neged Middah shower Rachamim upon us.  Let us do what we can-- over the next week and a half--giving of ourselves and of our money--with Simcha, and with trust!  Let us rise to the occasion!



2 Nissan

PERSONAL GEULAH:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, provides a touching insight from the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe, Z’tl).  Geulah need not take place only on a communal level, but on an individual level, as well.  The Yotzros that some may have recited last Shabbos teach that Nissan is “HaChodesh Asher Yeshuos Bo Makifos--the month in which salvations follow quickly one upon another” (translation of Artscroll Siddur).  The Chiddushei HaRim, however, teaches that the word “Makifos” is also very much related to the word “hakafa”--an extension of credit (see, for example, Avos 3:20, “Vehachenvani Makif--and the Merchant [Hashem] extends credit.”  The month of Nissan is an auspicious time during which we can ask Hashem for personal Yeshuos--on credit.  Even if we have not gotten there yet--we can express our beginning intention to do better and ask Hashem for the “merchandise” we need now.  It is market day, if you will, and the Merchant is unbelievably making it available on credit!  We have ahead a month that is infused with so much potential and good for us.  Let us begin with the beginnings of an act of Teshuva--whether it be coming to Shul on time, being more careful with Brachos, refraining from Ona’as Devorim to family and “close” friends, or anything else that you know you have to get to--and then ask Hashem for His unparalleled and incomparable credit on your continued future actions.  May you be zoche to a marvelous credit rating in this very special month--and may you speedily receive the Yeshua that you seek.  Most certainly you have the Chiddushei HaRim to back you up!



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 defines heseibah as one’s head leaning to the left while seated, with a pillow placed underneath the head.  HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, explains that in addition to one’s head, most of one’s body should be leaning as well. However, the leaning should not be to the extent that one feels uncomfortable in the position he is in.  The Ohr LeTzion writes that the position is one somewhere between lying and sitting--at least at a 45 degree angle.  Additionally, one must be leaning on something--if he is leaning in the air, HaRav Elyashiv rules that this is not heseibah


B.  The Mishna Berurah writes that the Haggadah itself is not recited b’heseibah, but instead B’Eimah U’V’Yirah--in awe.  Likewise, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that the brachos over the wine and the Matzah should not be recited b’heseibah--as a bracha requires awe as well. 


C.  Although it is brought that the Yom Tov meal at the Seder be eaten b’heseibah (see Mishna Berurah, Orach Chaim 472, seif katan 23), the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, the Steipeler, Z’tl, and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach ruled that if one feels uncomfortable eating b’heseibah, he need not do so, and they in fact did not do so.


D.  In a similar vein, HaRav Elyashiv rules that the drinking of wine at the Seder to demonstrate cheirus should not be overbearing--and that one could use eitzos to make the drinking more pleasant--for instance adding grape juice to some extent--as long as the taste of the wine is still felt, so that derech cheirus remains.  The Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, Z’tl, the Chebiner Rav, Z’tl and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, all rule that one can be yotzei cheirus with grape juice.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl and Rav Elyashiv require wine.  One who follows the latter p’sak should consult with his Rav or Posek in the event of any health or other issue regarding the intake of wine. 



THE SECOND NASI:  The Nasi whose portion we read today is Nesanel Ben Tzu’ar, the Nasi of Shevet Yissocher.  The Luach Davar B’Ito writes that the symbol of the Shevet Yissocher is the study of Torah.  Accordingly, the Luach writes that one should especially daven today for hatzlacha in Torah studies, and for Hashem to remove the impediments (including the  Yetzer Hara’s guile) which distract him in any way from Torah study.



THE MAZEL OF NISSAN! The Mazel for the month of Nissan is a ram.  The Egyptians, who were the most professional of astrologers, worshipped this particular Mazel, because it is the first, the b’chor, of all of the Mazelos.  Accordingly, they believed they could draw the strength and power from this Mazel which was necessary for them to rule the world.


Hashem therefore specifically took B’nei Yisrael out of Egypt during the height of this Mazel’s governance--on the 15th day--in the middle of Nissan.  Moreover, the lamb (ram) which was the earthly symbol of this Mazel, was restrained by being tied to bedposts--and then even shechted during the Mazel’s very governance.  Had B’nei Yisrael been taken out in any other month, the Mitzri’im could have claimed that its Mazel was simply not ruling that month, but had it been…


What is Mazel?  HaRav Chaim Friedlander Z’tl (Sifsei Chaim 2:268) explains that it is the method of controlling the creation from heaven to earth, which is wholly independent of man’s conduct (Mazel is connected with the word “Nozel”--to flow from heaven to earth).  The Egyptians were right--Mazelos were effective--until Rosh Chodesh Nissan--the day upon which Hashem taught us that WE, B’nei Yisrael, would now supersede and govern over all creation by our actions.  As the Posuk states: “This month is TO YOU the first month.”  Hashem, in the first mitzvah given to K’lal Yisrael as a people, teaches them that their actions will simply override all Mazelos.  As Rav Friedlander explains, the term “Ain Mazel L’Yisrael” (Shabbos 156A) means that the Mazelos have no power over us--just the opposite, our actions now control the creation.


This obviously puts us in a very responsible position.  On that first day of Nissan in the year 2448, we lost the status of commoners, and, in effect, became ranking high officers, because all of our actions, even the smaller ones, impact the world in its entirety.


In fact, our actions are so profound, that we can bring the Shechina into this world by building a Mishkan, and we can, Chas V’Shalom, drive the Shechina away with seemingly something as trivial as the Sinas Chinam--the senseless hatred--shown in the Kamtza-Bar Kamtza incident.


So what are we to do--is this simply teaching us about “Jewish guilt”?  No, quite to the contrary.  Does a King’s son say, “Forget this, I would rather carry water”??  Or does a Colonel say, “I’d rather be on all-night guard duty??”  No, or at least, they should not.  Instead, they will recognize the importance of their position and learn how to help themselves--and the many others whose lives they now affect.  How?  By taking instruction from the King, and by learning from the Generals, what to do and how to do it.


Indeed, Rav Chaim Voloziner Z’TL in the Nefesh HaChaim (Sha’ar 1, Chapter 4) teaches that the acts of sacrilege of Titus HaRasha in the Holy of Holies were less than meaningless trifle and had no bearing on this world--but our smallest deeds shake the cosmos.


As we proceed with our Pesach preparations, where we spend our valuable time searching for even crumbs of Chometz, scrubbing walls and turning pockets inside out, when some men become homemakers--kneading dough, baking matzos, or perhaps grinding maror, where world class athletes would envy women’s adrenalin levels, when we spend so much money on potatoes and eggs and figuring out different ways to prepare them, we should keep in mind--or least when the going gets rough, remind ourselves--when performing any and all of our actions that we are the star colonels, we are sons of the King--whatever we do is truly very, very important and how we do it impacts not only on our family, friends or neighbors, but actually governs the world and all of its hosts.



START TODAY!:  In the Haggada, we recite “Yachol Mai’Rosh Chodesh…--I might think [that the Mitzvah of relating the story of our Exodus from Egypt could be performed] from Rosh Chodesh Nissan and on.”  Why would I think this way?  After all did not the Exodus actually take place on the fifteenth day of Nissan, which is exactly the first day of Pesach--why would I think the Mitzvah could be performed earlier?  The Netziv (in the Chumash Ha’Amek Dovor, Shemos 34:18) writes, in fact, that the entire month is mesugal, is especially opportune, to instill within us true principles of Emuna and Avodas Hashem.  One need not and should not wait until the last moment of the Seder Night to stock up on all of the foundations of our faith. The Vilna Gaon and the Maaseh Nissim Hagaddah teach that the Geulah from Egypt was called “Chairus Olam--eternal freedom”--because the Geulah of Egypt was the root of, and source for, all future Redemptions.  When one does Teshuva, he must always look back to the source, to the beginnings, of the avaira in order to uproot and destroy his connection to it.  Similarly, when yearning for our own final Geulah, we must study and review how our initial Geulah came about and what happened in order to properly connect to it.  This being the case, one can never learn enough of the Hagaddah, its discussions and its teachings.  While intellectually one may know the ten maakos by heart (including details from the Medrashim), shoot off the four reasons that we were redeemed, or list in perfect chronological order the Mitzvos we have on the Seder night, this is simply not enough.  Even if we “know it all,” we must come back year after year to the same concepts, the same lessons, and even to the same words, so that we continue to emotionally internalize Geulah through continuously developing a greater spirit of faith and belief in Hashem within us (See Michtav M’Eliyahu, Volume 4, Page 249).  The night of the Seder, with the uplifting four kosos, the Matzoh, the paradoxical Korech, the amazing Hagaddah, and the unrestrained Hallel, is given to us by Hashem to continuously expand this spirit of Cheirus Olam within us!



1 Nissan

LET US JOIN TOGETHER AS A GROUP AND REACH OUR GOAL!  The Chayei Adam (Chapter 68) teaches that a Mitzvah performed by an individual is absolutely incomparable to a Mitzvah performed by a group together--the Chofetz Chaim similarly writes that when one contributes to a Gemach Fund he has a Chelek in each and every loan given--for EACH AND EVERY CONTRIBUTION IS ESSENTIAL TO THE GEMACH’S EXISTENCE AND ITS ABILITY TO MAKE THE NEXT LOAN! 


Please help Yad Eliezer provide vouchers for thousands throughout Eretz Yisrael. This year we have a three for one match for divorced women.  For every dollar you give, we get $3!  We have a 2 for 1 match for widows. Avreichim have a 2 for 1 match (up to $300,000).  Please call Mrs. Tropper at 718-258-1580 with your generous [could be tripled!] contribution, or please go to www.yadeliezer.org to donate to the Pesach campaign and please add which matching funds you are choosing in the comments section.  WE REALLY NEED YOU AS A CHAVER OF OUR GROUP--PLEASE JOIN IN!


Additional Note One:  The Chofetz Chaim writes that one who benefits a Talmid Chochom from his assets is considered as if he is Misdabeik BeShechina--and fulfills the Pasuk of “VeAtem Hadveikim BaHashem Elokeichem Chaim Kulchem HaYom(!)”.  The Chofetz Chaim also writes that one who supports those who study Torah merits that he too will know the Torah that was studied, even if he was ignorant of these Torah topics in this world. The Chofetz Chaim adds that this is pashut, for Gan Eden is based on the Ruchniyus of Torah--and when one is zoche to Gan Eden because of his support, he must be able to benefit from Gan Eden--through the Ruchniyus HaTorah that he has gained!


Additional Note Two:  The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah provides the following points and pointers relating to Ma’os Chittim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 429):


A.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one can utilize his ma’aser money for Ma’os Chittim, and that this is not considered to be paying one’s debts with ma’aser money.  HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is a hiddur in the Mitzvah if one provides one in need not only with money for matzos, but for his other needs of the Holiday.  In a similar vein, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that Gabbaim who collect for Ma’os Chittim can use the money not only for all food needs--but for clothing for the Holiday as well. 


B.  The Mishnas Ya’avetz (Orach Chaim 7) rules that if one does not have enough funds of his own, he should borrow money in order to give Ma’os Chittim--even though he is otherwise exempt from giving Tzedakah.  The reason for this is that in addition to Tzedakah, one fulfills a separate Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov--causing others to rejoice on Yom Tov.  As the Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 6:17-18) emphatically rules: one who does not give to the destitute and is mesameiach his family does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov--but instead “fulfills the Simcha of his stomach”.  Because the Mitzvah of giving Ma’os Chittim is inextricably bound to Simchas Yom Tov, continues the Mishnas Ya’avetz, the Shulchan Aruch records it not in Hilchos Tzedakah--but in Hilchos Pesach itself!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to present pertinent rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Orach Chaim, Volume III). Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final p’sak as to how he should conduct himself in a specific situation:




1.      One should pay for his Leil Seder Matzos before Yom Tov, so that it is legally his, both MiD’Oraysah and MiD’Rabanan.


2.      On Shabbos, one should not remove a piece of Matzah which is possibly Kefulah, because of the Issur of Borer.  One must instead remove the possible Kefulah together with some Kosher Matzah.  If the Matzah is actually (Mitsad HaDin) Kefulah, then it is Muktzah on Pesach and on Shabbos as well.


3.      LeChatchila, men and women should use wine for the four Kosos.  However, one may dilute the wine with grape juice, provided that the taste of alcohol significantly remains.  For children, one can be maikil and give them grape juice.  It is better for an adult to drink a smaller shiur of wine than a large shiur of grape juice.  If one is repulsed by wine and cannot drink it, he is patur from drinking it, as it is ma’us to him.  He should try to mix wine and grape juice in a manner in which the wine is still tasted.  If he cannot tolerate this, he can drink grape juice. It is also better to drink an entire smaller cup than the majority of a larger cup.


4.      Heseibah requires Derech Cheirus--which means in a royal and enjoyable manner, as kings eat.  This includes a person not bending his body towards the food, but bringing the food to the body.  Heseibah involves leaning most of one’s body and one’s head to the left side, and leaning on the arm rest or a pillow.  One should feel comfortable as royalty would feel.  If one leans without actually leaning on something, this is not considered Heseibah.  [Hakhel Note:  If one is unsure how to perform Heseibah, he should consult with his Rav or Posek.] 


5.      Although before performing a Mitzvah, one should state that he is about to perform it, one should not say “Hineni Muchan U’Mezuman LeKayeim Mitzvas Asei”, if in fact it is a Mitzvah DeRabanan.  HaRav Elyashiv himself recited “Hineni Muchan U’Mezuman LeKayeim…”, but did not say the “LeSheim Yichud….”


6.      The Sefer Chayei Adam strongly objects to the partition which separates the Matzos in a Matzah cover.  The places that are noheig like the Chayei Adam should keep their Minhag.


7.      The Yesod of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is to relate the story--it is not Me’akev for it to be to a son.  This is why a son does not necessarily have to come to his father for the Seder.  If a child is only three years old or so, and could only understand this story on a kindergarten level, the father should relate it to the child on that level.  There is no inyan, however, for the three year old to relate the story to the father based upon what he knows from kindergarten.


8.      One should throw the wine from his cup at the designated points in the Haggadah with his Etzbah (pointer finger as opposed to pinky), because the Pasuk says “Etzbah Elokim He”.


9.      If one is in the midst of eating Matzah, he can answer “Amen” to another’s bracha if he has swallowed a bit.



A REMARKABLE DAY: Today is the first day of Nissan, one of the most renowned days in the Torah, as we read last week, Hashem taught Moshe Rabbeinu on this day--“This month is the first month of the year…” (Shemos 12:2).


The Gemara (Shabbos 87B) teaches that Rosh Chodesh Nissan took “Eser Ataros”--ten separate and distinct crowns--for ten unique events that happened on this day, which include the first day of the Avodah--the complete service in the Mishkan, with Aharon and his descendants to serve everlastingly as Kohanim Gedolim and Kohanim.  It was also the first day ever of the Shechina descending into the Mishkan, and of fire coming from Heaven to consume the Karbanos.


Additionally, not one or two, but eight different parashios of the Torah were taught to K’lal Yisrael on this day (See Gittin 60A).


The Navi in Yechezkel (45:18) teaches that on THIS DAY the “Miluim”--the consecration of the THIRD BAIS HAMIKDASH will commence.  Accordingly, the Siddur Bais Yaakov writes that all who are “Mitzapim L’Yeshua”--await the Redemption--should recite the Pesukim related to the dedication of the Third Beis HaMikdash in Yechezkel, 43:18-27 and 45:18-20.


Indeed, the first 12 days of Nissan, the days of the dedication offerings of the Nesi’im (the princes of the tribes) in the Mishkan, are so powerful that Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov taught that in each of these days are inherent an entire month of the year.  With true clarity of vision, on each of these 12 days, one can understand what the entire corresponding month will be like.  The first day of Nissan provides the clarity for the entire month of Nissan, the time of Redemption.


Today’s Nasi, i.e., the first one to bring Karbonos in the Mishkan, was Nachshon ben Aminadov, who was the same Nasi who jumped into the stormy sea for Geulah.  Perhaps the lesson for today is not to be ashamed or hesitant--but to jump in--to give it all that we have, to prepare for--and to bring--the Geulah!


Today is also the first day we can recite the Birchas Ha’Ilanos, upon seeing a blossoming fruit tree (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 226 for further details on the proper performance of this Mitzvah).  One can show his/her zerizus and chavivus--alacrity and dearness--for this once-a-year Brocha by reciting it as early in the month as possible.


Finally, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the Rosh Hashana for Shekalim (Rosh Hashana 7A)--the day **NEW** contributions were **REQUIRED** to be used to purchase the daily sacrifices for the Bais Hamikdash (no matter how full the Temple treasury already was).  This teaches us that today is the day to start again, with a fresh and new commitment, to utilize the coming days to personally spring and blossom.



BE SMART! Now that Nissan is upon us, we must be smart enough to use the Month of Geulah--for that purpose.  Not only is Nissan proven from the past, Chazal even teach that “U’BeNissan Asidin LiGa’el--in Nissan we will be redeemed.”  Indeed, the Yotzros for Parashas HaChodesh make it perfectly clear “Rusham BeChol Dor Shomur Hu LeRochev Al HaChamor--It is reserved **in every generation** for the one who will come riding on the donkey.”  Far be it from us to allow the Yetzer Hora to razzle, dazzle and frazzle us over the next few weeks when we can accomplish so much towards our own Geulah!  Perhaps we can start daily with the Tefilah Al HaGeulah from now until Pesach--which we once again provide by the following in Hebrew here http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  and in English here  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq.  May we also suggest that when reciting ViL’Yrushalayim Ircha in Shemone Esrei that you picture Yerushalayim well--with the millions of people that were there in the past and will be there again celebrating Pesach--visualizing the [including your] Seder on the rooftops, the palpable Ruach Hakodesh of the Tzaddikim, the Kohanim working in beautiful harmony, and the incredible Miracles of the Mikdash.  Think about the unadulterated Simchas Yom Tov (not needing Great Adventures to make it happen), and of the harmony, health and purity of spirit that will abound.  All of this may be only a prayer--your prayer--away!



29 Adar

TODAY--FOR ALL:  We provide a Tefillah Al HaParnassah Mimamon Kasher, which the Shelah HaKadosh writes should be recited before Rosh Chodesh Nissan.  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillaAlHaParnassa.pdf


Hakhel Note:  Especially Yom Kippur Koton--today, which serves as a portal from the last month of the year to the first-- Nissan--we should include a special level of Teshuva and Tefillah into our day!



TOMORROW FOR WOMEN!  Rosh Chodesh Nissan is very, very special—especially for women. The Daas Zekainim MiBaalei Tosfos (Shemos 35:24) writes that the reason women were given Rosh Chodesh as a special day for them (to treat it as a Yom Tov-- not to do certain work—see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 417) is because they were ‘semaichos u’zehiros’—happy and careful –to donate their jewelry to the Mishkan, whereas their jewelry had to be taken from them against their will for the Eigel HaZahav.  Tosfos notes that the effect of their donations was noticed on this Rosh Chodesh--Rosh Chodesh Nissan—when the Mishkan was established, and that all of the other Rosh Chodoshim of the year are given to women as a Yom Tov because of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. So, especially this coming Rosh Chodesh—plan on making it a special day!



TOMORROW FOR ALL: Tomorrow is one of the most renowned days in the Torah, as we leined on Shabbos, Hashem taught Moshe Rabbeinu that on this day-- “HaChodesh HaZeh Lochem Rosh Chadoshim--this month is the first month to you of the year…” (Shemos 12:2).


The Gemara (Shabbos 87B) teaches that Rosh Chodesh Nissan took “Eser Ataros”--ten separate and distinct crowns--for ten unique events that happened on this day, which include the first day of the Avodah--the complete service in the Mishkan, with Aharon and his descendants to serve everlastingly as Kohanim Gedolim and Kohanim.  It was also the first day ever of the Shechina descending into the Mishkan, and of fire coming from Heaven to consume the Karbanos.


Additionally, not one or two, but eight different Parashios of the Torah were taught to K’lal Yisrael on this specific day (See Gittin 60A).


The Navi in Yechezkel (45:18) teaches that on ROSH CHODESH NISSAN the “Miluim”--the consecration of the THIRD BAIS HAMIKDASH will commence.  Accordingly, the Siddur Bais Yaakov writes that all who are “Metzapim L’Yeshua”--await the Redemption--should recite the Pesukim related to the dedication of the Third Beis HaMikdash in Yechezkel, 43:18-27 and 45:18-20.


Indeed, the first 12 days of Nissan, the days of the dedication offerings of the Nesi’im in the Mishkan, are so powerful that Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov taught that in each of these days are inherent an entire month of the year.  With true clarity of vision, on each of these 12 days, one can understand what the entire corresponding month will be like.  The first day of Nissan provides the clarity for the entire month of Nissan, the time of redemption.


Tomorrow’s Nasi, i.e., the first one to bring Karbonos in the Mishkan, was Nachshon ben Aminadov, who was the same Nasi who jumped into the stormy sea for Geulah.  Perhaps the lesson is not to be ashamed or hesitant--but to jump in--to give it all that we have, to prepare for--and to bring--the Geulah!


Finally, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the Rosh Hashana for Shekalim (Rosh Hashana 7A)--commencing on this day new contributions were required to be used to purchase the daily sacrifices for the Bais Hamikdash (no matter how full the Temple treasury already was).  This teaches us that Rosh Chodesh is the day to start again, with a fresh and new commitment, to utilize the coming days to personally spring and blossom.  Let us feel the Special Time in the air--and improve and elevate our actions accordingly.  The opportunity is oh so blatant--grab on and enjoy!


Hakhel Note: 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 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!



BITACHON:  As we proceed through this great Bitachon-filled period of Bein Purim L’Pesach, we provide the following important two (2) thoughts from the Ohr Avigdor Sha’ar HaBitachon (a translation and commentary on Sha’ar HaBitachon by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’tl):


A. It is important to notice that the man with bitachon does not live any differently from the man without bitachon. They are both working at their jobs. Both people are sitting at their desks and both are making a living, or trying to make a living. So superficially, you see no difference between them. The only difference is in their minds. Of course, if you know them well you will know that one of the two men is always cheerful and the other is not. He replaces a smiling face with a scowling face. The reason for that is the fundamental difference in attitude between the two men.


B. If one is a tailor, he is serving the world by supplying its people with clothing; that is what Hashem wants. If he is a grocer or a baker, he is supplying the world with food. If he is in real estate, he is supplying people with apartments and homes. He is doing all this because Hashem commanded him to do it. So whatever he is doing for his livelihood, he should consider it a service of Hashem and not because he relies on his work to support him or help him. Hashem is the One who gives him all of the help that he needs, but he is doing things out of service to Hashem.



HILCHOS PESACH: We once again present pertinent rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Orach Chaim, Volume III). One should consult his Rav or Posek for a final P’sak in all areas:



1.      It is best to recite the Birkas Ha’Ilanos over a minimum of two trees, as the bracha itself refers to ‘Ilanos’ in the plural.  The bracha may be recited on Shabbos and on Yom Tov.


2.      Ma’os Chittim may be given from Ma’aser money; however, at least a small amount should not be from Ma’aser funds. 


3.      When a Jewish store sells its Chometz, and then continues to sell Chometz on Pesach it is a chucha u’telula. Accordingly, one should not purchase from a store like this after Pesach, as it may be Chometz Sheavar Alav HaPesach.  It is better to purchase pre-Pesach Chometz from a store which sold its Chometz properly before Pesach, than to rely on the other store selling Chometz from ‘after Pesach’.


4.      If one lives in a building in which the tenants or unit owners are not interested in selling the Chometz in the common areas, one should be mafkir his Chelek in the common areas before the time of Issur Chometz sets in.  [Hakhel Note:  One should consult with his Rav as to how one is mafkir.]


5.      According to the Ikar HaDin, one need not check his Seforim before Pesach, as any miniscule crumbs would be batel.  However, a Sefer which was not cleaned page by page, should not in any event be placed on the table, for a crumb from the Sefer may fall on the food, and all of the food would become assur, as the Chometz is not batel in the food.


6.      If one checks his pockets well by hand, he need not check them by candle light.


7.      On Erev Pesach, one should LeChatchila complete laundering, pressing, sewing, haircutting, nail cutting, and shoe shining before Chatzos.  However, if one was not able to do so, he may still cut his nails and shine his shoes after Chatzos, but a hair cut after Chatzos may only be performed by a non-Jew.


8.       One can measure a Revi’is, a Kezayis and a Kebeitzah on Yom Tov, for the shiur of the four Kosos, Matzah and Maror, but one may not weigh the Matzos in this regard.


9.      The fact that one eats food in a Kittel on the Leil HaSeder does not derogate the Kittel’s status, for the Leil HaSeder is a Layla Shel Mitzvah.  Accordingly, one may not enter the restroom wearing a Kittel


10. One should prepare the Kezaiysim of Matzah for all participants in plastic bags before Yom Tov, so when it comes time to partake of the Matzah, there is no significant lapse between the bracha and the eating of the Matzah.  [Hakhel Note:  The same would seem to apply for Maror.]



26 Adar

BRACHOS ALERT! The OU, which now gives the Hashgacha on Post Honeycomb cereal, has advised the appropriate bracha combination is Borei Minei Mezonos and Borei Nefashos. Please spread the word!



GETTING READY FOR RAIN! One of the most outstanding English Seforim published in the last few years is undoubtedly Let There Be Rain: A Lesson a Day on Making Gratitude a Part of Our Lives, by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein. The Sefer contains 189 daily lessons--and its new cycle will begin on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. We urge you to purchase this Sefer and begin the cycle on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, as in a few short moments a day, the Sefer can make a monumental impact on the way you think and on the way that you look at other people. For those who are completing the first cycle of the year, the second cycle will certainly help imprint the lessons upon one’s heart and being!



FROM THE MIDRASH TANCHUMA: In the introduction to his Sefer Bereisah D’Meleches HaMishkan, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, brings a powerful Midrash Tanchuma (Parashas Tzav 14): “HaKadosh Baruch Hu instructs K’lal Yisrael--learning in the Torah about the Mishkan is like building it--tell K’lal Yisrael to read in the Torah about the Tzuras HaBayis, and in reward for learning, I will consider it as if they were actually involved in the building of the Bayis itself[!]” (Divrei Siach)



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.  In the Nusach of Bitul Chometz, we recite the words “Debiyartei U’delah Biyartei--which I have burned/destroyed and which I have not burned/destroyed.”  If it has been destroyed--why does one need to nullify it?  There are many reasons:  (i) perhaps the subject Chometz has not been completely burned or destroyed; (ii) one intends with these words to include Chometz upon which something has fallen and which one does not intend to uncover, but still requires bitul; and (iii) the words also cover Chometz which has been removed by being sold to a non-Jew, and the possibility exists that the sale did not properly take place.


B.  The following is from the Sefer Otzros HaTorah on the Haggadah Shel Pesach:  All of the chumros and dikdukim that we undertake in cleaning our homes and utensils for Pesach are certainly me’orer great zechuyos for K’lal Yisrael, and are mevatel [as in bitul Chometz!] the machshavos ra’os of our enemies against us.  It is said that when HaRav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov would see women cleaning and preparing their homes, rinsing, washing, scrubbing and the like before Pesach, he recited the following: “Yehi Ratzon She’eilu HaMalochim HaYotzim Meima’asei Yedeihen Ya’alu Lifnei Kisei Kevodecha VeYamlitzu Tov Ba’adeinu--may this be an Eis Ratzon before You, Hashem, and may the Malochim that are created by their holy activities come before Your Holy Throne and serve as melitzei tov for all of K’lal Yisrael.”  Let us not lose sight of, and remember, that all of our holy activities in these days are creating Malochim Kedoshim!  Rebbi Levi Yitzchak recited a Yehi Ratzon--so can we! 


C. On Erev Pesach, the Chasam Sofer, Z’tl, would himself prepare the Seder table with a zriyzus nifla’ah and simcha atzumah.  The Michtav Sofer, based upon this, writes that every Yirei Shomayim should begin to set the Seder table after Chatzos on Erev Pesach, and make sure that everyone’s kos has a proper shiur and is fit for use (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.).





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


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


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


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


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


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


B. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in the Sefer Ta’amah Dikrah brings the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 408) at the outset of this week’s Parasha, which teaches that on Shabbos we should gather together the multitudes and teach them the Halachos of Shabbos. Why is it, HaRav Chaim asks, that this is particularly true of Hilchos Shabbos? HaRav Chaim answers that one who is c’v mechalel Shabbos in public is treated l’halacha like an akum--and it is as if he publicly proclaims c’v that Hashem did not create the world. Conversely, then, when we gather together as a tzibbur to study the Halachos of Shabbos--we are publicly proclaiming that Hashem created the world! Hakhel Note One: Learning Hilchos Shabbos, then…is Zecher Lema’aseh Bereishis! Hakhel Note Two: A Mechaneich asked HaRav Kanievsky what he should learn on Shabbos if he has an hour of free time--Gemara or Mishnayos? HaRav Kanievsky responded--Mishna Berurah--Hilchos Shabbos. Likewise, for one who had mistakenly turned on the light on Shabbos, he advised him to review Hilchos Shabbos as a tikun. (Divrei Siach)


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


D.  A family that needed Yeshuos (shidduchim for their children and offspring for their children who were married) asked HaRav Kanievsky what they should strengthen themselves in. He responded that they should take in Shabbos earlier then they previously did. (Divrei Siach)





A. Reminder About the Question of the Week: Last week’s Parasha ends with the radiance of Moshe Rabbeinu’s face being so great, that he had to put a mask on it--and this week’s Parasha begins with the Mitzvah of Shabbos--what is the connection between these two Parashios?


B. The Torah teaches that the Badim, the staves, were placed into the Aron for a particular purpose--”Lasais Es HaAron--to carry the Aron” (Shemos 37:5).  Chazal (Sotah 35B) teach, however, that in fact the Aron was not carried by its bearers, but instead actually carried those very same apparent bearers. HaRav Nosson Adler, Z’tl, finds that the lesson is clear--those who support Talmidei Chachomim may appear to be the supporters--but are in fact and indeed--actually supported by those who study.  Hakhel Note:  There is an Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba way to look at what is actually taking place...since Olam Haba is much, much longer and indeed everlasting --one should very much adapt the long-term view!  Let us keep this in mind every time that we have the opportunity to in any manner honor or ‘support’ one who is studying Torah full time!


C. In the Parasha we find the term Lev mentioned in various ways--Asher Nisa’o Libo, Kol Nediv Lev, Chacham Lev, U’Lehoros Nasan BeLibo.  It is a time to remind ourselves of the precious words of the Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 16):  “Chazal teach that Rachmana Liba Ba’i--Hashem wants us to serve Him with our hearts--for it is not enough for Hashem to see our deeds alone, such as our Ma’aseh Mitzvah.  Rather, it is most important to Him that our hearts be pure to serve Hashem in truth.  The heart is the king of all the other parts of the body and leads them, as so if the heart is not focused on the service of Hashem, then the service of the other limbs and organs is not worth anything, for they will just follow the heart.  In fact, this thought is expressed clearly by Shlomo HaMelech (the wisest of all men) in Mishlei (23:26) “Tena Bini Libecha Li…my son give me your heart!”


With this thought in mind, we can well understand why the Pasuk in discussing the construction of the Mishkan emphasizes the need not only for the building of the Mishkan--but that our hearts be first dedicated to the task!


Additional Note:  We once again provide the story of the g’vir in Flatbush who would open his door to all, giving to all with a generous heart.  Once, he sat down for dinner and his wife had prepared a soup for him.  There was a knock on the door, and he got up to answer.  His wife pleaded with him:  “I will let him in and he can sit a few moments, at least eat the soup while it is hot.”  He turned to his wife and said:  “This is my opportunity to give something of myself.  When I give money--I am simply distributing that which belongs to Hashem, hopefully in a manner which Hashem sees fit.  Now, however, I have the chance to give up my hot soup for this person.  Let me rejoice in the opportunity!”


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


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


If we have not already inculcated the above message into our awakening each morning--let us seriously consider making this a turning point. As we arise in the morning and begin to ready ourselves for the day all kinds of new ideas and reminder bombard us--everything we have to do and even the order we have to do it in.  If we can take those first precious moments and focus them properly--”Shetargileinu BeSorasecha VeDabikeinu BeMitzvosecha”, “Sheyiheyeh Libi Nachon U’Masur BeYadi Shelo Eshkachecha”, and the Gra’s thought B’Lev Shaleim U’VeSimcha to accept upon oneself the Torah and the Mitzvos--then we have the express assurance of the Siddur Siach Yitzchak that Az Yiheyeh HaKol Tov!


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


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





A. Chazal teach that the Parasha begins with the instruction to keep Shabbos then discusses the building of the Mishkan--in order to teach us that we do not work on Shabbos even if it is to build the Mishkan. HaRav Wolbe, Z’tl, asks: Who would ever think that building the Mishkan would be doche Shabbos? Would writing a Sefer Torah be doche Shabbos? Quite to the contrary--when something is doche Shabbos (such as a bris milah on the eighth day, Karbanos brought in the Beis HaMikdash on Shabbos, or Pikuach Nefesh situations), Chazal must bring specific pesukim or limudim which allow Shabbos to be overridden. Based upon this question, HaRav Wolbe suggests that the Torah is, at the very least, teaching us an important mussar lesson. That is--one might think that sometimes in order to perform a Mitzvah one can ‘step-on’ other Mitzvos. It is easy for one to rationalize performing something which was essentially a ‘Mitzvah HaBa’ah B’Aveira’. Rebbi Yisroel Salanter warns about this. Indeed, the story is told of a person who in wrapping himself in his Tallis hit Rebbi Yisroel’s face with the Tzitzis of the Tallis. Rebbi Yisroel told him--why am I at fault that you are a Yerei Shomayim? Rebbi Yisroel would likewise reproach those who would push and not pay proper attention to others when trying to get closer to listen to a Shiur. So, too, with the Mishkan--one does not build a home for Hashem’s presence by abrogating the Shabbos in any way.


B. The Pasuk teaches: “Kechu Me’itechem Terumah LaHashem Kol Nediv Libo--take for yourselves a portion for Hashem, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it.” (Shemos 35:5). HaRav Wolbe beautifully explains that the process of building the Mishkan did not simply entail a building being built and the Shechina thereupon coming to dwell within it. Rather, everyone who brought a Terumah brought it Menidvas Libo--meaning that he brought a part of the Shechina in his heart with it. The Shechina that rested on the Mishkan--was really the Shechina that rested on the hearts of K’lal Yisrael--which was now assembled into one, unified holy place!


C. The Ramban writes that Betzalel constructed the Aron by himself. The Ramban explains that this is because he was filled with the spirit and wisdom to do so--it was not a matter of craftsmanship--it was a matter of Ruach Elokim, Chochma, Tevunah and Da’as. This is a tremendous lesson for us. Greatness is measured by how much spirit and how much hisbonenus, how much thought, one puts into what he cares about. When one goes to do a doctor, who quickly checks him and prescribes a medication--one knows that this doctor is not really an expert. A good doctor will listen well to the symptoms, think about them, put them together and then decide what is wrong and how to treat it. The difference between katnus and gadlus--one who is small and one who is great is in his power of hisbonenus--putting true spirit and real thinking into what is important!


D. Upon assembly of the Mishkan, the Pasuk (Shemos 36:13) concludes Vayehi HaMishkan Echad--and the Mishkan was one. HaRav Wolbe teaches that the word Echad here does not only mean that is was ‘one’ and not ‘two’, but also that it was one--that included everything, for everything in it was unified. Likewise, he concludes, when in Shema we recite the words Hashem Echad--we not only mean that Hashem is One and not two, but that Hashem is One and that everything is subsumed and included within Him--everything comes from Him--and all of the world’s needs and requirements are fulfilled by Him!



THE CONCLUSION OF SEFER SHEMOS: As we conclude Sefer Shemos tomorrow, we recognize that there is a new beginning next week with Sefer Vayikra.  It is a momentous ending of the Sefer HaGeulah, and the inauguration of the aftermath of Geulah--the Toras Kohanim--service of Hashem on a higher plane in a Mikdash .  Most definitely, this should be a Shabbos of real reflection--what am I concluding--and what will I be beginning?  How will I utilize the opportunity?  Will I realize that it would truly be an accomplishment to improve in Avodas Hashem before the second half of the Year--with a concrete improvement that I have been meaning to make --especially in Torah or Tefillah?  As we see the great work product of the Mishkan come to final fruition in Parashas Pekudei--let us practically and meaningfully take the lesson of its building to the meaningful next step--real and actual growth in Avodas Hashem!



SHABBOS, 27 ADAR IS THE FIFTH YAHRZEIT OF HARAV SCHEINBERG (CHAIM PINCHOS B’R’ YAAKOV YITZCHOK), Z’TL: The magnitude of HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl’s gadlus is hard for us to comprehend.  His Ahavas Hashem, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Yisrael were nothing short of awe-inspiring.  His being, his essence, was Ahava.  Who can forget how he answered shailos to those lined up waiting to see him as if each sho’el was his son or grandson?  And how he especially urged his students to ‘give Tzedaka!’ in order to achieve Kapara for chait!  We recall how he would urge people to learn just a little more every day...for time was one’s most valuable possession and must accordingly be used most wisely. Rav Scheinberg was once asked if he could provide “hadracha”, or guidance, in how one could better study Torah.  He provided a two-word response: “Learn more.” Rav Scheinberg once told a parent who had requested that he give his son a bracha that he become a Talmid Chacham--that he would give him the bracha, provided that the son committed to learn an additional five minutes per day!


  We provide the following excerpts from the The Torah Home, by Rabbi Shlomo Furst, Shlita, based on the Shiurim of Rav Scheinberg, Z’tl. To obtain the full, original English version and the Hebrew translation--and other books in Rabbi Furst’s Torah Way of Life series containing Rav Scheinberg’s teachings, please call: 972-2-500-4682:


A. Sechel.


Our lives are precious. Therefore, people who are concerned train themselves to follow their sechel. We cannot ignore our emotions--but we can direct them. The emotions can become submissive to the sechel. Then they will be manageable, instead of assertive. Individuals who are successful with their sechel will not become angry or infuriated. They are settled and calm. Tranquility is the prevailing characteristic of their personalities.


There is something more. We have essential and undeniable physical needs. Life would be impossible without them. We must eat, drink and sleep. People must populate the world. These things are all true and appropriate. Nevertheless, thought, control and moderation must govern every physical act we do. The influence of Torah elevates us beyond the need for pleasure. Indulgence, the thoughtless pursuit of every whim, will not bring satisfaction. When our sense of priorities is wrong, an inner conflict will rage between an unquenchable need for physical gratification and the unfulfilled aspirations of the neshama.


Most of us want to be good. Nevertheless, the best of us can fall prey to daily stresses, fatigue and frustration. The sechel is certainly influenced by the body and its physical needs. Nevertheless, the more we fortify our sechel with Torah, the less vulnerable we will be to the influence of our emotions. Counterproductive emotions, especially anger, flourish best under stressful conditions.


The best response to a situation where anger has gained control is to remain silent. Try not to react. Instead, maintain your own composure. Be tolerant, for most good-natured people, although temporarily enraged, will surely come to their senses and snap out of it. We must realize and value the importance of sechel. We must behave like mature people and control the urge to vent our anger.


Self-control is vital for creating and maintaining a healthy marriage and relationships. If our sechel is so undeveloped and therefore weak and we cannot resist a momentary upset, we will make many mistakes. We will have many regrets.


Under the influence of anger or frustration, spouses may make many hurtful statements. It is difficult to retract such harmful words. We have to be sensible enough to evaluate our loss against what we gain. Thoughtless outbursts of anger are destructive. Under all circumstances, whether we are provoked from within or from without, we must remain silent. To remain silent is very difficult, but the reward for holding back angry words of retort and revenge is very great. If we exercise control over ourselves, we will feel wonderful over our success and our marriage and relationships will flourish.


B. Menuchas HaNefesh.


Guided by sechel--clear and balanced thinking--we will fulfill the purpose of our lives. We will achieve ‘ashrecha v’tov lach’ (Tehillim 128:2). We will have menuchas hanefesh. We all desire and value shalom. Nevertheless, shalom is an elusive reality. We generally think of peace as being the lack of conflict among people. This definition, however, does not indicate the need for menuchas hanefesh.


Shalom is truly the result of personal, inner peace. We must achieve peace between our inner drives and motivations before shalom can be expected to flourish among people. We must be happy with ourselves before we can be happy with others. Shalom begins with us. The more menuchas hanefesh we have, the more we will be able to be calm in our homes and supportive to our families. If we have menuchas hanefesh, then even in the fact of daily challenges and ordeals, the quality of our home lives will be peaceful. Bickering is an outward expression of the lack of personal shleimus. It is a lack of menuchas hanefesh that leads to discord within the home. Our inner, spiritual life affects our behavior. The home is a place where we think we can be ‘ourselves’. Nothing can be further from the truth. At home, we have to be better than ourselves. We may be angered much more easily and lose our control at home. If we lack education and training about how to manage our emotions, wherever we may be--including the home, then this battle ranges throughout life. If we are at peace with ourselves--at all times--we can help bring peace to our families, our friends--and the world!



25 Adar

VISITING A CEMETERY: For those who will be visiting a cemetery prior to Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we provide by the following link the text of a mini pamphlet prepared in connection with a visit to a cemetery-- http://tinyurl.com/l6yygld



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


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


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



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. Annual Essential 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!  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!



SPENDING PERSONAL MOMENTS TO DAVEN FOR THE GEULAH SHELEIMAH: Five years ago today, the horrific massacre in Toulouse in which Rabbi Yonasan Refoel Sandler, Z’tl, his two sons, and a young girl, Miriam Monsonego were murdered, H’YD.  The pain of galus moves on and on--time passes, but the searing pain is remembered and we beg Hashem to avenge each and every suffering.  The Sefer Sifsei  Chachomim on Mesechta Megillah brings a comforting Pasuk (Yeshayahu 65:16): Ki Nishkechu HaTzaros Harishonos Ki Nistaru Mai’ainai--for the earlier travails will have been forgotten.... Remembrance of all of the tzaros we experienced in galus will be expunged in the bliss of the final Geulah.  With this thought in mind, how can we not daven with special zeal every day for the Geulah Sheleima to come once and for all--today?!  When it does come--and it will--perhaps your Tefillos that day will be instrumental in its coming--with all the tzaros gone, and all the joy to begin, and you as an important part in its coming!



THE WORLD’S CREATION AND US! 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 then 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!



24 Adar

THE LAST SEVEN DAYS OF ADAR: 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 Beis 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!



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 Z’tl).   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 bracha.


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!



FROM A READER: “In response to your Question of the Week (as to one taking Chometz out of his pocket today--has he fulfilled the Mitzvah of bi’ur chometz?), I’d suggest that no biur was involved - but - here’s one of my favorite “vertlach”. Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, Z’tl, used to say that if a person learns from a sefer (any day of the year) and then before returning it to the shelf he checks it for crumbs (so that he will not have to check it Erev Pesach)... he is being mekayim the mitzvah of Lemaan Tizkor Es Yom Tzeischa MayEretz Mitzrayim Kol Yemei Chayecha... so our pocket checker should have THAT mitzvah!”





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 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 descendant 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 Yisrael 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

THE KOSHER HAIRCUT GUIDE POSTER: As the Chag approaches, we once again provide an important link to The Kosher Haircut Guide Poster (available at http://tinyurl.com/yh2dqy6 ).  We urge you to distribute this link, in order to help many others in your community as well.  To obtain a free large and laminated poster for placement in a barber shop, or permanent placement in Shul, Yeshiva, or other institution, please call: 718-253-5497.



FROM A READER: “I suggest an alternative explanation for the Kitzur prefacing “Shorei LeChol Mann Di Tza’aran” to Ribbono Shel Olam: The former is the Tefila of Mar Zutra recorded in the Gemora (Megilla 28a), while Tefilas Ribbono Shel Olam is a later (post-Shas) formulation elaborating upon Mar Zutra’s pronouncement.  Clearly those following the predominant practice of Klal Yisrael to recite “Ribbono Shel Olam,” but not “Shorei,” fulfill Chazal’s guidance.  It is interesting that Litvishe Chassidim who daven from Siddur Ohr HaYashar separate the two, reciting “Ribbono Shel Olam” at the onset of Krias Shema She’Al HaMita (as is the conventional Minhag) and “Shorei LeChol Mann Di Tza’aran” at the end of Krias Shema She’Al HaMita, following the Pesukei D’Rachamei (Pesukim besearching Hashem’s mercy) and just before Birkas HaMapil.  I have not yet heard an explanation of this practice.”



QUESTION OF THE DAY:  What is three weeks from today?  This is a real example of Gilu Bira’ada! Experience it!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Over the course of the next three weeks until Erev Pesach, if one takes Chometz out of his pocket or out of his drawer in preparation for Pesach--has he fulfilled a Mitzvas Asei of Bi’ur Chometz?



THE NEXT 21 DAYS: Having just completed Parashas Parah, we know that the time is ripe for taharah--for purifying ourselves.  Even if we cannot at this moment purify ourselves with the Parah Adumah in order to enter the Beis HaMikdash, we can still do our utmost to purify ourselves in preparation for the Chag.  Chazal teach us that at any time and at all times--Haba LeTaheir Mesayin Oso--if one wants to attain purity, Hashem will assist and guide him to accomplish his task.  Most certainly, then--today and every day for the next 21 days until Pesach, Teshuvah Bechol Yom should take on great importance each and every day!



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).



THE 23RD OF ADAR:  Today, 23 Adar is the first day of the Shivas Yemei HaMiluim before the Mishkan was finally consecrated on Rosh Chodesh Nissan.  The Luach Davar B’Ito writes that for seven days the Mishkan was erected and taken down daily, and then was left standing on Rosh Chodesh Nissan--to demonstrate that Beis HaMikdash HaShelishi will remain forever!  The Luach suggests that one read/review the Torah’s instructions relating to the Yemei HaMiluim (Parashas Tetzaveh, revi’i through shishi) and Karbanos HaMiluim in Parashas Tzav (from revi’i until the end).



A GEULAH THOUGHT FOR THE TIME OF GEULAH: The following potent words are excerpted from With Hearts Full of Love, by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman, Shlita, based on a series of talks on chinuch by Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita:  “…the Rambam writes that a person who does not await the imminent arrival of Mashiach with anticipation is considered to have denied that Mashiach will ever come.  [Yet, without real detail of any kind at all]  all the Torah tells us is that the Ribono Shel Olam will one day gather in our exiles and bring us back to Eretz Yisrael.  [With such a lack of detail, how can we be held so accountable for not anticipating the Geulah ?]  Perhaps we can resolve this important question with a parable.  Let us imagine there is a poor man, a pauper who does not know from one moment to the next where he will find his next crust of bread.  He has no friends or supporters who can help him out in his dire need, but he does have a wife and a house full of little children who are always on the verge of starvation. He has no prospects and no hope of finding a decent livelihood in the foreseeable future. He is depressed and despondent, and every day, he walks around-in a cloud of darkness One day, a Tzaddik who lives in the same town appears on his doorstep. Everyone knows that an untrue word never crosses the lips of this holy man and that if he makes a promise it is invariably fulfilled The poor man invites the Tzaddik into his house and they sit down together “I had a dream about you last night,” says the Tzaddik. “In my dream, I received a message from Heaven that I was to deliver to you.”  The poor man shrinks back in fright.  No, no,” said the Tzaddik. “There is no need to be frightened.  It was a good message. I am to tell you that you should not give up hope. Although your life is bleak and harsh right now, it will become much better. One day you will wake up in the morning and right there on your kitchen table you will find a large treasure, more than enough to support you and your family in comfort for the rest of your lives. Better times are on their way.


The poor man is breathless with excitement. “When will this happen?”  “I don’t know,” says the tzaddik. “I was not told when it would be, but I was assured that it would happen.”  The Tzaddik leaves, and the poor man is beside himself with joy. Because of the reputation of the Tzaddik, the poor man has no doubt that the message is genuine and that his fortunes will change. He just does not know when it will happen.  The next morning, the poor man wakes up and immediately runs to the kitchen table to check if the treasure has appeared.  There is no treasure. He is disappointed but not discouraged, because he knows without a doubt that it will come to pass one day. He just has to be patient. Days and months go by, and still he finds no treasure. But it does not matter. His life has been transformed, and although he is forced to live with privation and hardship, the cloud of darkness has gone. His life is now illuminated with hope.  It does not matter how long it takes for the promise of the Tzaddik to come true. Every day without fail, when he gets up in the morning, the poor man checks to see if his treasure has arrived, because he knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that it will be there one day.  It is the same with the belief in the coming of Mashiach. It is not just that we believe Mashiach will come one day and redeem us. We also believe that the times of Mashiach will be more wonderful for K’lal Yisrael than any time that existed in the history of the world. It will be as if a treasure has appeared on our table.  All our worries, concerns and problems will come to an end, and we will live in utter bliss. This is what the Ribono Shel Olam has promised us, and there can be no greater assurance than the divine promise. So if we really believe this, how is it possible that we do not wake up every morning and wonder if Mashiach has already arrived or at least if this is the day that it will finally come to pass? If we gave more than lip service to the coming of Mashiach, if it was a reality for us rooted deep in our hearts, we would surely await his imminent arrival with eager anticipation. And if it takes time, if days go by, even months, years and centuries, and Mashiach is still not here, we are disappointed but not discouraged. Because we know it will happen. The Ribono Shel Olam has promised it to us. So we live with hope and the knowledge that this long and bitter exile will one day come to an end.  This is how it must be. It can be no other way. If someone truly believes that Mashiach is coming and that the redemption will be the end to all our troubles, how is it possible that he does not think about it all the time?! How is it possible that he does not await that blessed day with eager anticipation?! That is why the Rambam writes that if someone does not await the arrival of Mashiach with eager anticipation he is considered to have denied the prophecies of Moshe and the Neviim.”


Hakhel Note: As we recite the words Ki Lishuasecha Kivinu Kol Hayom--we should think about our dream--and yearn and long for it---for it will arrive for the one who awaits it!



22 Adar

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Last week’s Parasha ends with the radiance of Moshe Rabbeinu’s face being so great, that he had to put a mask on it--and this week’s Parasha begins with the Mitzvah of Shabbos--what is the connection between these two Parashios?



TEFILLAH TEST! After we complete one of the three daily Tefillos, we may feel uneasy or disappointed over yet another lost opportunity. Days, weeks and even months go by, with the Yetzer Hara doing his best to make us feel that our daily Shemone Esrei cannot be improved to a standard of excellence. May we suggest that, at the end of each Tefillah, one grade himself in his Shemone Esrei with an “E”, “VG”, “G” “D” or “F”, with perhaps a brief comment?  Seeing a written record, one can incentivize himself to improve--and hopefully be joyful over his marked improvement--in this extraordinary daily opportunity of speaking directly with Hashem. If marking oneself on the entire Tefillah seems out of one’s reach, he may want to do it on a bracha-by-bracha basis, feeling elevated on a slower, step by step basis. The time to start is now!


Hakhel Note: We were advised by someone who had visited the Baba Sali, Z’tl, that the Baba Sali had advised him that he should always daven in a way that a son would daven to a father. In this way, the Yetzer Hara would not be able to interfere--for he has no right to impede the words of a child to his or her father!



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)



A COMMON SCENARIO!  Someone you know is not particularly careful with the laws of Shemiras HaLashon approaches you and starts relating information about a common acquaintance which is at least borderline derogatory, and which you already believed to be true before this person came over to you.  In this situation, one must nevertheless battle the “I know this already” feeling, and still judge the one being spoken about lechaf zechus.  One should not allow the fact that the negative words are being stated or reiterated by another to enter his mind and validate his prior belief or knowledge.  Rather--he should deny the pleasure of the one relating the Lashon Hara by saying something like:  “Sorry, I don’t listen to/accept Lashon Hara”--and should simultaneously re-judge the victim lechaf zechus.  Look at the situation from a bird’s eye view--you are being tested on an advanced level--pass with flying colors!



THE PRECIOUS WORDS OF HAREINI MOCHEL!:  The following Halacha is excerpted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (71:3):  “Before going to bed, one should put in his heart to forgive all those who have sinned against him, so that they are not punished because of him.  Chazal (Shabbos 149B) teach that ‘A person on whose account another is punished [i.e., by not forgiving him] is not allowed into the mechitzah of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.  Instead, one should recite three times:  “Shorei LeChol Mann Di Tza’aran--I forgive all those who caused me distress.”  Hakhel Note:  Incredibly, the Kitzur then goes on to teach that after this one should still recite the tefillah of Ribbono Shel Olam HaReini Mochel….  In other words, it would appear that the Kitzur is requiring a specific stand-alone statement (to be repeated three times) before the tefillah of Ribbono Shel Olam to indicate the thoughtfulness and sincerity of the statement!



ONE FINAL PUSH ON KIYMU V’KIBLU.  Based upon the Sefer Ma’alos HaTorah, the Chofetz Chaim brings the following powerful Mashal:  If the king promoted a commoner to the royal service, to a position otherwise performed by senior officials, the commoner would most certainly feel a great joy--even if he would not be paid for his work.  After all, he need only consider where he was before and where he is today.  All the more so, must one rejoice when he realizes that he has been promoted above the level of the common man to study and practice the words of the Torah HaKedosha--words which the Malachei HaShareis themselves regale in--and words which the Tzaddikim in Gan Eden spend all of their time with!  If this is not enough, continues the Chofetz Chaim, one should remember the words of Chazal who teach:  “When one studies Torah the angels created by his words surround him for as far as he can see--and he is in their midst!”  Hakhel Note:  What new commitment (bli neder) can one make to this incredible, unparalleled and eternity-creating royal privilege?!  It is most definitely very well worth it to spend the time and make the effort!





A.  In the Beis HaMikdash, the Kohanim were required to wash their hands and their feet prior to performing the Avodah.  Before we daven, we are only required to wash our hands, although our Beis HaKnesses is a Mikdash Me’at.  We can appreciate from this, in a small way, how especially holy the Beis HaMikdash was.  The feet are farthest away from the person’s Lev and Moach--his thought process and his Neshama.  Yet, the great Kedusha of the Beis HaMikdash ‘got through’ even to the most distant organs of the body, penetrating and elevating them.  Oh, how, we should strive for BeShuvcha L’Tzion B’Rachamim!   Hakhel Note:  The Karbon Pesach is still very much within our reach--let us reach out!  At this time of year, as we bridge the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah of Pesach, let us once again put special effort into the recitation of the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah (http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  (Hebrew version) and  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq  (English version).


B.  Of the spices included in the Ketores, we find the chelbena, which does not have a pleasant fragrance.  Chazal teach that we derive from this that we are to include the poshei Yisrael--the sinners--together with us in our Shuls.  The Sifsei Chachomim (explaining Rashi to Shemos 30:34) writes that this does not mean that we are enjoined to simply daven together with the sinners.  Rather--it means that they must do Teshuvah together with us--and it is for this reason that Hashem will have mercy on us--for even they are doing Teshuvah.  We should keep this in mind when helping the uneducated in Torah Judaism--when they do Teshuvah, Hashem has mercy on us all! 


C.  HaRav Yaakov Galinsky, Z’tl, teaches that the Cheit HaEigel is found in the aliyah of Levi in order to teach us great sensitivity.  Hashem does not want to offend a Yisrael, who would otherwise receive the aliyah, because of his great-great grandfather’s actions.  We owe a high degree of feeling and sensitivity to every member of K’lal Yisrael, no matter how dastardly their deeds, or the deeds of their ancestors. 


D.  HaRav Galinsky also teaches that when Hashem advised Moshe that Bnei Yisrael had made the Eigel, he told Moshe:  “Saru Maheir--they have removed themselves quickly from the path that I have commanded them.”   HaRav Galinsky derives from this that when one must make a decision he must pause.  If K’lal Yisrael would have stopped to reconsider, would have hesitated just a bit to rethink matters--we would have been in the Yemos HaMashiach--thousands of years ago!


E.  After Hashem heeded Moshe Rabbeinu’s cries to save K’lal Yisrael after the Cheit HaEigel, Moshe continued to make new and additional requests.  Rashi (Shemos 34:18) enlightens us all with the reason why:  “Moshe saw that it was an eis ratzon and his words were accepted, so he continued to ask….”  Rashi is teaching us that we should apply this lesson…and continue to ask at an eis ratzon--when we see that things are going well! 


F.  In response to one of Moshe Rabbeinu’s additional requests, Hashem told Moshe  (Shemos 33:23) “VeRa’isah Es Achorai U’Panai Lo Yeira’u--you will see My ‘back’, but not My ‘face”.”  The Chasam Sofer explained that one of the meanings of this Pasuk is that, as humans, we can truly understand history only after an event has occurred.  As an example, the Chasam Sofer  provided a stirring episode in his own life.  When he was a young man, he studied in Yeshiva in Mintz, and was housed in the home of a Ba’al HaBayis who was forced to quarter French soldiers from time-to-time.  On one occasion, a French soldier took a liking to the brilliant young man and asked if he could stay in this house a little while longer so that he could learn from the young man.  He spent some time there, and the Chasam Sofer shared some of his intellect with him.  More than 30 years later, when the Chasam Sofer was Rav of Pressburg and the French took hold of the city, he was brought up on trumped up charges of espionage for the enemy.  He was brought before a French military tribunal.  As he stood before the judges, the chief judge immediately ordered him to come into a private room.  After the door was closed, the chief judge gently advised the Chasam Sofer that he was the soldier that the Chasam Sofer had taught more than 30 years earlier in Mintz.  The chief judge continued:  “I know these charges must be trumped up, and you will be acquitted of them all!”

Hakhel Note:  To Hashem, time knows no bounds--we can always rest assured that we are in His loving hands.  The more we act with the 13 Attributes of Mercy as found in the Parasha, that He expects of us (see Sefer Tomer Devorah, Chapter 1 for practical applications)--the more mercy He will shower upon us today…tomorrow…30 years hence…and forever and ever!



19 Adar

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).



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”.



V’ASAF ISH TAHOR: In the Parasha of Parah Adumah, 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!



GENERATIONS! How many generations do you think there are from the time the second Luchos were given in this week’s Parasha--and today?  You may be relatively surprised to see one sample chronology that we provide by the following link--http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TorahTransmission.pdf  You are closer to Sinai then you think--and should be careful to keep the chain in fine condition!



A TIME OF GIVING!  Parashas Ki Sisah, begins with the zechus of giving money to the right causes--with one’s Shekalim being used for great and lofty purposes.  Chazal (Bava Basra 9B) teach that one who gives charity to a person in need is blessed with Six Brachos--as rooted and demonstrated by the Pesukim in Sefer Yeshaya.  What an incredible rate of return! It really is much better, however, for Chazal add--based upon a continuation of the words of the Navi Yeshaya--that one who is Mefayso BiDevarim, one who appeases the poor person with kind words and an uplifting spirit receives an Additional Eleven Brachos--so that if one gives money--and on top of that provides words of support and encouragement--He is Zoche to Seventeen Brachos! With this, we should begin to appreciate what our “Shekalim” do not only for the Ani--but for our very own Ruchniyus. Our giving to others--is a gift to us from Hashem.  So let us be careful as we begin to give over the next several days--and always give with the right attitude!





A. In response to a question we posed to him, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita rules that:  “Moving muktza even if it moves only in its place is prohibited. Touching muktza without causing it to move, wobble, or tilt is permitted.”


B.  In this week’s Parasha, we find that the Torah requires that: “Veshomru Bnei Yisrael Es HaShabbos--Bnei Yisrael shall observe the Shabbos,” to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations (Shemos 31:16).  This Pasuk, together with the Pasuk which follows it, are so essential to our understanding of Shabbos that we repeat them both at Ma’ariv and in Shacharis on Shabbos.  What is the concept of “Shemiras Shabbos?”


HaRav Shlomo Mandel, once explained at a Hakhel shiur that a “shomer” is someone who guards, watches out for, is on the alert, and anticipates.  Indeed, the Torah uses the concept of “Shemira” when it describes how Yaakov Avinu responded to Yosef’s dreams.  The Torah states:  “V’Aviv Shamar Es HaDavar--and his father [Yaakov Avinu] was waiting and anticipating for [the dreams] to happen.” (Bereishis 37:11, and Rashi there)


This is an extremely important lesson for us.  The Torah requires us to be “Shomrei Shabbos”.  In order to fulfill this properly, we cannot start with candle lighting and/or “Lecha Dodi”.  Instead, we must appropriately prepare our thoughts and actions, so that, to the greatest extent possible, we can enter the Shabbos in a state of preparedness and equanimity--watching out and anticipating for the Shabbos to come.


There are many practical examples in which one can make strides towards this end.  For instance, one can, as much as possible, undertake Shabbos preparations on Thursday evening and Friday morning.  Additionally, business matters such as taking care of bills, or even going through the mail, when it does not require immediate attention, can become part of “Shemiras Shabbos” if they are put off until Sunday or Monday.  Interestingly, it was HaRav Aryeh Levin Z’tl’s custom not to open letters that arrived Friday afternoon, so that bothersome thoughts and worries should not trouble him on Shabbos (Growth Through Torah p. 220, quoting A Tzaddik In Our Time p. 100).


There are other activities which could help you become a superior “Shomer Shabbos”.  Making a list of the things that have to be done--and especially those things which you have had issues with in the past--making sure you have wine, candles, matches, open tissue boxes, clothes (without stains from the previous week), Torah thoughts for the Shabbos table--and accomplishing these, and many other items which could truly be taken care of, hours and hours and even a day before Shabbos.


If a man is more often late than on time for Mincha in Shul on Friday afternoon, or if a woman customarily, or even usually, lights the neiros “just a minute or two” after the published zeman, there is an indication of weakness in his/her anticipating, watching out for, guarding, longing for, the Shabbos that is coming.  If the scene is one in which the husband is still in the shower/bedroom area at candle lighting time, or the woman of the house has to choose between davening Mincha before candle lighting--or lighting neiros five minutes late, some corrections may be in order.


Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch, rather than requiring raised voices, anger, and tension, immediately prior to Shabbos, instead requires that a person “arise early” on Erev Shabbos to properly prepare (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 250:1).  In fact, the Mishna Berurah there requires that some Shabbos preparation be done after davening Shacharis (and, if necessary, even before Shacharis--see there).  Furthermore--the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 260:2) actually requires that one speak “B’Lashon Raka” (in a soft voice)--immediately before Shabbos(!)--even as to those matters which require correction before Shabbos arrives.


In an ideal world, Shemira would include being ready a few minutes in advance and waiting for the Shabbos queen to come, by saying Tehillim, learning Torah, or the like--just as the watchman watches and anticipates.  For the men, there are undoubtedly great zechusim to be had when one is not dashing out the door to shul with suit jacket in hand, tie not made, and wet hair.  For the women, there is very much to be gained lighting neiros two or three minutes before the zeman, instead of a minute or two or three after the zeman.  Each one of us should sit down and think about how we can improve our quest for a greater appreciation, a greater understanding, a greater accomplishment, in being a “Shomer Shabbos” Jew!


C.  The Sefer Yereim writes that Hadlakas Neiros is “Gemara Gemiri La”--is actually a  Halachah LeMoshe MiSinai!  Rebbe Akiva Eiger, Z’tl suggests that men (Hakhel Note: or other able-bodied person) take part in the Mitzvah by making sure that the Neiros are in fine order for the woman of the house to light.  We may add that this could include testing the candles and fixing them well into the leichter, putting the matches in place, making the Sefer with special Tefillos for the time readily available on the table--as the time of Hadlakas Neiros is an Eis Ratzon, etc. The moment the Queen enters is a powerful one--and a proper--and not hurried and hassled-- Hadlakas Neiros is like the rolling out of a beautiful red carpet to meet her!


D.  For Shabbos morning laining (and when  being ma’avir sedra): In the Parasha, we find the following powerful Pasuk describing Moshe Rabbeinu’s initial reaction to the events of the Chait HaEigel:  ”VaYomer Ein Kol Anos Gevura VeAin Kol Anos Chalusha Kol Anos Anochi Shomea--Moshe Rabbeinu told Yehoshua “It is not a sound shouting strength nor a sound shouting weakness--it is  a sound of distress that I hear.” (Shemos 32:18)  HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, teaches that the meaning of the word Anos the third time it is mentioned in the Pasuk is different than the first two times that it is mentioned. The first two times it means ‘sounding’, and the third time it means ‘distress’--inui.  It is truly a different word--which is why there is a dagesh in the Nun of the third Anos of the Pasuk, and not in the first two. Accordingly, to the extent possible--the ba’al kriyah who is laining, and one being ma’avir sedra should read the third occurrence as ANNOS and not as ANOS--i.e., with a greater accent or drawing out of the nun, not actually making it onto a ‘double-nun’--but extending it a bit--so that one recognizes and demonstrates the different word being read!


  E.  We provide below an extremely important thought provided in the past on our unique and wonderful relationship to Veshomru Vnei Yisrael Es HaShabbos:


Shabbos is the only day of the week in which each Tefillah of Shemone Esrei is different.

·        In the evening, we recite “Ata Kidashta”--You have sanctified us.

·        In the morning, we recite “Yismach Moshe”--Moshe was gladdened.

·        In the afternoon, we recite “Ata Echad”--You are one…


  The Sefer Avudraham (1:163) asks--why is it only on Shabbos--and not on the weekdays--or even on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur or the Shalosh Regalim--that the text of the Shemone Esrei changes at each one of the Tefillos? The Avudraham provides an amazing answer.  Because Shabbos is called the “Kallah” (Bava Kama 32B), and Hakadosh Baruch Hu is called the Choson, we first celebrate our initial participation in the Kiddushin, i.e., the commencement of the installment of Kedusha into Shabbos--by reciting “Ata Kidashta” on Leil Shabbos.  Indeed, it would seem that we joyously sing Lecha Dodi just as we escort the Choson to greet the Kallah.


At Shacharis, we recite “Yismach Moshe”--Moshe rejoiced--as the Choson’s and Kallah’s and participants’ joy increases after the Chuppah, and as the Chassuna progresses.  We are now invited to take an even more active role in the joy, as the Choson asks us to take good care of his precious Kallah and we proudly continue by reciting “Veshomru Vnei Yisrael Es HaShabbos”.”  It is with the greatest honor and pleasure that we take the Choson’s request to heart, mind and action.  As Chazal teach, our Shabbos observance is more important than even the building of the Bais Hamikdash (see Rashi, Shemos 31:13).  We hope and pray for the Bais Hamikdash daily--yet we cannot violate Shabbos to attain it, because we have been asked to guard the Kallah!


We then continue with Mussaf, with the bringing of Korbanos as the “Seudas Mitzvah.”

Finally, at Mincha we celebrate “Ata Echad”--the conclusion of the Chassuna--and the resulting unity and oneness of the Choson and Kallah.


We may add that just as when you come home from a really joyous, nice Chassuna, or from the Chassuna of a close relative or friend, you bring the joy home with you (compare this to the Melave Malka), and the joy lasts for a few days--or even for the week, through the Sheva Brochos, so should our honored participation in the Simchas Shabbos last for several days, or perhaps even a week, until the next Shabbos--when we can once again experience transcendent and sublime joy.


There is no doubt that a direct correlation exists between the way we celebrate at a Chassuna and its lasting effect upon us.  If our celebration is centered on the fish crepe, squash soup or well-done prime ribs in duck sauce, there will definitely be some kind of lasting effect (at least somewhere in--or on--the body!).  But if we feel an internal joy out of genuine warmth and oneness with the Choson and Kallah, the feeling will have even a greater impact and most certainly endure for a longer period.  The feeling of closeness will cause you to “stay in contact” with the Choson and Kallah.


Similarly, Rav Shlome Wolbe, Z’tl, once commented, that while a tasty Cholent is truly an important aspect of Shabbos, it should not in and of itself be the highlight of this sacrosanct day.  Instead, we should actually try to establish the highlight of the day ourselves--our greatest moment of joy with the Choson and Kallah at their celebration.


One’s highlight should be something special and meaningful, and may be:

·        A heartfelt Lecha Dodi or Zemiros with feeling or even intensity.

·        Learning Rashi, Ramban or Midrash or other commentaries on the Parasha.  We can always draw wellsprings of information on how to conduct ourselves during the week by applying the Parasha’s timeless and timely lessons.

·        In Shacharis, reciting Nishmas slowly, word by word, or feeling moved at “Kel Adon” (not just waiting for the tune the Chazan will use).

·        Helping to make the Shabbos table warm and inspirational with a poignant Devar Torah or lesson-filled story you have prepared.

·        Giving meaningful advice or assistance to a Shabbos guest.


So, as we shower, shine our shoes, set the table or otherwise prepare for the great Chassuna this Shabbos, or even when we are at the Chassuna itself, let us go beyond the delectable kugels and cakes and pleasant and refreshing Shabbos nap, and think about how and what we will do this Shabbos that will permeate and elevate us and leave a supernal effect upon us through the week!



A LESSON FROM THE NECK: In the Parasha we learn of the horrific sin of the Golden Calf.  In its aftermath, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu: “Say to Bnei Yisrael--you are a stiff-necked people…” (Shemos 33:5).  In fact, this exact same description of our “stiff-neckedness” is repeated two other times in the Parasha (Shemos 33:3 and 34:9).   Likewise, in the Viduy we recite “Kishinu Oref--we have been stiff-necked.”  There is a very important message here for us.  The neck, as opposed to the front, symbolizes the back of the person and shows that the person is turned away from someone, rather than facing him.  It is our job not to turn away from what we have done, and certainly not to turn away from Hashem.  Instead, we must face that which we have done with a plan to improve, and face Hashem asking Him for nothing less than Divine assistance going forward.


We believe that there is also a vital second lesson:  The Torah is teaching that the heinous “Chait Haegel” is related to being obstinate and inflexible.  In our stubbornness, we must be careful to distinguish between fact and opinion, between “teaching lessons to others” and learning to control our self-interest or pride.  It is now a very auspicious time to deal with this middah, in order to indicate that we, on our own personal level and in our own private way, are looking to correct the stiff-neckedness within us--and our recognition that obstinacy could eventually result in something that is catastrophic, r’l.  If our actions are “just because” or “because that is the way I do things” or because “I know I am right” or “because I don’t do it that way”… (you can fill in another phrase that better summarizes your own stiff-neckedness) then we may have to work on some adjustments in attitude.


Of course, being tough in some areas is good--such as not flinching from the requirements of Halacha or proper Hashkafa in spite of work, financial or even social pressures to do so.  However, Chazal advise specifically that “a person should be soft as a reed, and not hard as a cedar tree” (Taanis 20B).  Reeds are malleable and do not break--even in the face of a harsh wind or thunderous storm.  Incredibly, the mighty cedar may fall earlier than the thin little reed.  Let us take this lesson to heart as we practice acting with more pleasance than presence, the way Hashem would like us to!



MORE NOTES ON THE PARASHA: We present several additional points from Parashas Ki Sisa to apply (and hopefully inculcate within ourselves) over the coming week:


A.  The Pasuk teaches that the letters on the Luchos were engraved through and through, and that, by Miracle, they could be read from both sides although the writing was not reversed.  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, as quoted by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, brings the following important lesson relating to this Miracle:  HaRav Chaim Elazar Wachs, Z’tl, (the “Nefesh Chayah”) was a partner in a paper factory.  His partner came to him with an idea that would bring him a great deal of profit in a short amount of time.  When the partner presented all of the details, HaRav Wachs concluded that the idea involved some degree of impropriety, and bordered on geneiva.  His partner still wanted to go ahead with the “get-rich-quick” scheme.  HaRav Wachs exclaimed, “Don’t you realize why the Luchos had to be readable from either side?!  Because no matter which way you turn the Luchos--you have to see the Lo Signov!”  [In Yiddish:  “Az men dreit a hin, oder men dreit a heir, es shteit noch ales Lo Signov!”]  We may all be faced with the temptations of improprieties--some bigger and some smaller.  We must, however, realize that the Luchos preceded these temptations and manipulations--and covers them from whatever angle they may be coming!


 B.  Chazal (Rosh Hashanah 17B) teach of the great power of the Thirteen Middos of Rachamim found in the Parasha (Shemos 34:6, 7), which are first introduced to us after the Chait HaEgel.  Indeed, their introduction to us after the Eigel indicates their great potency--as we are kept going as a nation after such a devastating aveira.  The Netziv makes an amazing point as to one of these Middos.  He writes that it is not correct to read this Middah as “Rav Chesed” and then simply continue with “Emes”, as the next Middah.  Instead, and in fact, the word “Rav” modifies BOTH Chesed and Emes--for Hashem not only provides Abundant Chesed but also Abundant Truth.  It is this Middah that we must emulate--not to allow ourselves into the singular comfort of “Rav Chesed” which we are so incredibly blessed with in K’lal Yisrael--but also to be the Rav Emes--being an overflowing source of Truth as well!


C.  The Taz asks what is the Attribute of Mercy contained in the word “Lo Yinakeh”.  We know that Yinakeh means that Hashem cleanses the sin of one who does Teshuva--but how is the Lo Yinakeh--Not Cleansing the Sin--helpful to us?  The Taz answers that it means that Hashem will not eliminate the sin and may punish the sinner somewhat --but still waits for him to do Teshuva, and in the interim does not give him the punishment that he truly otherwise deserves.  There are thirteen different levels of Mercy--it is up to us to determine which levels of Mercy we will be zoche to--we do not have to be at the bottom of the class--so why should we put ourselves there?  Teshuva is a much better alternative!


D.  HaRav Moshe Rosenshein, Z’tl, approached his great Rebbe, the Mashgiach of Mir, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, and asked him to explain the Chait HaEigel to him.  After much study of the topic, HaRav Rosenshein was expecting a greatly detailed and long explanation from his Rebbe of what had transpired here.  HaRav Yeruchem answered with Two Words.  The Two Words....Yetzer Hara!  After all, could it make any sense that a people who owed so much to Moshe Rabbeinu would believe that he died--and almost immediately start to wildly party?  As we say in the Lechu Nerannena at the outset of Kabbalas Shabbos (Tehillim 95) “Va’Omar Am To’ei Levev Haim...--and I said they are a people who are mistaken of heart...”.  The Yetzer Hara’s effects were so devastating that the sin of the Golden Calf burdens us to this very day.  There is a great lesson for us all here.  If we could remind ourselves when making any daily decision that we must realize which side of the decision the Yetzer Hara is on--we can take a great step--on a daily basis--to overcoming, overriding and overruling the Chait HaEigel itself.  What an accomplishment!  What a great and enormous potential every day brings with it!



18 Adar

TAKING A STEP BACK: The Gemara in Megillah (11A) lists numerous pasukim which various Tanaim and Amoraim used to begin their drashos about Purim.  Rabbi Yochanan used a posuk from Tehillim (98,3), “Zachar Chasdo V’Emunaso…He recalled His kindness and faithful pledge to the House of Israel, all ends of the earth have seen the salvation of Hashem.” [Artscroll translation].  Rabbi Menachem Zupnik, Shlita, asked how this could relate to the story of Megillas Esther--in which Hashem’s Name is not mentioned.  How could all ends of the earth acknowledge it was from Hashem?  He answered by quoting the Chasam Sofer on this week’s Parasha (Shemos 33, 23), V’raisah  achorai, in which the Chasam Sofer explains the posuk homiletically to refer to the fact that often while events around us are unfolding, it is difficult to see Hashem’s Hand at work.  However, with hindsight, after the events, we can clearly see how He directed it all “from the back,”--for after the second letter was dispatched those living at the time were able to see His actions clearly in all that had occurred! 



MORDECHAI AND ESTHER: 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! 



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!



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. Even though the general rule is safeik d’rabanan lekulah, when it comes to Bedikas Chometz, one should not be lenient in the event of safeik--for the entire takanah is to check and clarify that no Chometz remains (Dirshu Note 22).


B. 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 the agreement of the parties (Dirshu Note 16).


C. 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 and a cabinet and a wall), one does not have to move away the heavy bookshelf or wall--and instead can rely on his bitul). This would be true even if one knows that something valuable fell behind the cabinet he would move it (Dirshu Note 25).



YAHRZEIT OF THE YESOD V’SHORESH HA’AVODAH: Today (18 Adar) is the Yahrzeit of the Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah (R’ Alexander Siskin 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, a dedicated focus in one’s life should be on 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): “Ahallelah 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 one mouth words such as these-- Ahallelah 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 his 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 clean of any other thoughts and cannot otherwise focus, he should think with 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 Sheatah Yachid U’meyuchad V’Sheatah Yotzeis 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 state why he is learning--in order to have Yiras Shomayim, to grow spiritually and properly perform the Mitzvos and 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 an 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 (let us say a fruit and a drink)--and not just take it as general words of appreciation. Moreover, when reciting the words Baruch Chei Ha’olamim at the end of Borei Nefashos, one should feel great joy that Hashem is the Lifegiver 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 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 31:31 et al.; Yechezkel 11: 17 et al., 37:24-37 and 37:21. One should also see the end of Sefer Amos, 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!




YAHRZEIT OF HARAV CHATZKEL LEVENSTEIN, Z’TL: Today is the Yahrzeit of Chatzkel (HaRav Yechezkel B’ Reb Yehudah HaLevi) Levenstein, Z’tl, the great Mashgiach in Mir and Ponovezh. A disciple of HaRav Chatzkel related, “I once saw Rav Chatzkel in a state of extreme happiness, and asked him for the reason.” HaRav Chatzkel replied: “Someone greatly insulted me today, and I didn’t say anything in return. For this I am joyful” (Marbitzai Torah U’Mussar, Vol. 4, p.212, as published in Love Your Neighbor).


The following excerpt is from a truly remarkable sefer entitled Reb Chatzkel, on the life of Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, by Rabbi Yitzchak Kasnett (Artscroll, 2007).  This sefer is very highly recommended:  “On the way to Japan, the Mashgiach (Rabbi Levenstein, Z’tl) expressed to the Mirrer talmidim the following thoughts about the impending exile: ‘The decree of exile is an unnatural state that was expressly created for K’lal Yisrael.  When we consider the consequences of exile, we find that no nation other than K’lal Yisrael remains in existence after any appreciable time in exile.  The Midrash relates that Hashem Yisborach asked Avraham Avinu what punishment he chooses for his children when they will sin and there is no Beis HaMikdash to atone for their wrongdoing--exile or purgatory.  According to one opinion quoted in the Midrash, Avraham was unable to answer. Thus, in practical terms, the consequences of exile and purgatory are strongly equated.  Contrary to our understanding of exile, the deleterious effect of exile upon our spiritual growth and well-being cannot be overstated; we have no appreciation of the great measure of Divine mercy needed as we pass from one regime to the next.’” (Page 142)


Hakhel Note: As HaRav Chatzkel studied in Kelm as well, the book brings the following great teaching that we can all easily utilize in our daily lives:


The following was one of the rules that were in effect in the Kelm Talmud Torah:


“To be careful not to say a Bracha hastily; therefore before making a Bracha, one must think:


What Bracha do I need to make?


Before Whom am I making this Bracha?”



REMINDER--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!



17 Adar

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!




1.  “This year as we read the second time hanging of Haman’s sons and I recalled the remez of the Nuremberg trials I noticed the Pasuk saying Ubaviza Lo Shalchu ... Perhaps a hint to our refusal to use items made in Germany .. Also maybe obviously as days come close to year 6000 there are only a couple of dafim left in the megillah ... Would be nice to know what they mean ... “


2.  “I heard from Rabbi Shmuel Zev Friedman that Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank asks... why didn’t Achashverosh take the money? Why does it say Mordechai told Esther about the silver “that he said”? And why does Esther say “we were ‘sold’ to death”?


“One answer ties them all together... Haman didn’t just want the Jews dead, he also wanted to be king, and he tried to undermine Achashverosh. Achashverosh didn’t take the silver, because it was important that the king could not be “bought”. He could hate the Jews, but he was a king, and he could not be influenced by mere silver.


“Haman, however, TOLD people that the king had accepted the silver, thereby painting him as a petty monarch who could be bought or bribed... that fits in with the words or Mordechai, and explains why Achashverosh was so appalled that the Jews had been “sold”. He knew Haman wanted the Jews dead... he didn’t know that Haman had tried to undermine him by telling people that the king had taken silver to exterminate the Jews. That’s why he was so angry.


“Beautiful, no?”



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).



AN IMPORTANT TWO WEEKS!:  A we recently noted, 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.



SEIZE THE MOMENT!:  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!



GIFTS!:  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!



KIYMU VEKIBLU!:    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 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 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

LAST CALL: MISHNAYOS MESECHTA PESACHIM:  If you start today and learn just three Mishnayos a day--you will still complete the entire Mishnayos Mesechta Pesachim--for Pesach! Be a part of it!



WHY DID ACHASHVEIROSH’S PARTY HAVE NO MUSIC? HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, answers this question beautifully. Although the Megillah goes to great lengths to describe the ambiance of the party, the tapestries, the furniture, the wealth… description of the music is, in fact, missing for a very important reason. Achashveirosh’s purpose with the party described at the outset of the Megillah was to ensnare the Jews in sin with forbidden food, drink, etc. However, music channels into a person’s heart. If the person has Taharas HaLev, then even music performed with evil designs and ill-intent will be transformed in a positive way. Achashveirosh was fearful that the Jews would take any music that was played and purify it--nullifying his designs. He therefore determined that no music at all be played at the lavish event!


Hakhel Note: Even Achashveirosh realized--Mi K’Amecha Yisrael!



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)



THE SIXTEENTH OF ADAR: 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!



HAPPY AND GLAD OF HEART:  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!



IN MORDECHAI’S NAME:  Esther related the plot of Bigsan V’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?!



WE ARE UP TO YOUR MEGILLAH:  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!



ONE FINAL WORD:  Kiymu V’Kiblu--energize yourself with these words when you study!



15 Adar

REMINDER--Start three Mishnayos a day in Mesechta Pesachim--if you start today you will finish on the first days of Yom Tov! What a beautiful way to enter the Yom Tov!



HILCHOS PESACH!  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.). 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. Bedikas 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.  According 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)



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!



CHOMETZ GEMACH IN FLATBUSH! Between Purim and Pesach, donate your unopened, non-perishable chometz with a reliable Hechsher. The Gemach sells donated chametz with its own chametz. After Pesach everything is distributed it to those in need. Also accepting donations to purchase supplies or extra food. For more information, contact Yitzchak Relkin: 718-377-6361 or email yitzchak@relkin.com (please write “Chametz Gemach” in subject line). Active between Purim and Pesach. The Gemach is located at 1101 East 3rd Street. Please call before coming to make sure that someone is home to receive the Chometz. All Chometz must be dropped off by the day before bedikas chometz.

Last year, the Gemach gathered and distributed almost 8,500 pounds of food. In seven years, the Gemach has distributed 18,000 pounds.



THE “SECOND DAY OF PURIM”! 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 multi-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 in this sense 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 replacing 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’Tovosecha-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!



A SECOND THOUGHT:  A different (but not contradictory!) thought on Shushan Purim as the Purim of Yerushalayim:  Dovid HaMelech cries out in Tehillim 122: “Sh’alu Shelom 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 Shelom 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!!



12 Adar

SOMETHING VERY PRECIOUS: Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita notes that every morning, before putting on his Tefillin, he reminds himself that unlike the Tzitz--one of the Eight Garments of the Kohen Gadol referred to in tomorrow’s Parasha ,which had Hashem’s name on it one time (in the words Kodesh LaShem)--one’s Tefillin has the name of Hashem in it 42 times.  This is a great source of inspiration and appreciation when donning Tefillin.  The Bi’ur Halacha in Hilchos Tefillin adds that when we tie the knot on our arm every morning--we are tying the “Kesher HaYichud VeHaKedusha--the knot which declares Hashem’s Oneness and Mastery, and the knot of Holiness.  A Rav once saw his Mispalel with a tired and distracted face as he was about to don his Tefillin. He turned to him and said--in the Megillah what you are about to do is referred to as “Yekar”--something very honored, and very precious.  You should be smiling from ear to ear that you have an opportunity now to wear not any crown jewels--but Hashem’s crown jewels! 


Hakhel Note 1:  One of the reasons the  events which called for our annihilation at the time of Purim occurred is because “Yoshanu Min HaMitzvos--we were asleep with the Mitzvos, for the Mitzvos were ‘old hat’ to us; rephrased just a bit-- we were doing the Mitzvos in our sleep.  The threat of annihilation woke us to realize that Torah was not an instruction book with many details--but was true Orah--the illuminating infinite light , that Yom Tov was not an interruption from the daily routine, forced vacation, or expensive--but the ultimate joy of special togetherness with one’s Creator even in this world; that a Bris Milah was not simply the mark of a Jew--but was Sasson, the reality that 24/7 one could be bonded with Hashem.  So, feeling the Yekar of Tefillin each and every day before we put them on--especially at this time of year is an important step in making us worthy to eventually observe and celebrate Purim.  It only takes an extra moment of two of reflection--and the difference may very well be phenomenal. 


Hakhel Note 2:  For women who do not don Tefillin, their Yekar may easily be seen as the Tznius--the clothing and comportment that befits an Am Hashem.  After all, Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, describes a woman’s clothing with the words “Oz VeHadar Levusha--her dress is powerful and beautiful--quite similar to the Yekar of Tefillin--no?  In truth, men are supposed to wear their Tefillin all day, but most are not capable; women, then, whose clothing is with them throughout the day, succeed to sustain their Yekar far beyond the average man.  It definitely follows that just as men must spend a little time to appreciate their Yekar, women too--especially when they see the deportment of other females in stores and businesses--should not sleep through--but very much appreciate, and be very grateful for the badge of honor that envelops them daily.  Let us start practicing now--so when we begin to sing the words LaYehudim Hoysa Orah...on Purim they have very, very special meaning to us!



THE FIRST WORD OF THE PARASHA: The following moving message is excerpted from V’shee-Non-Tom, by Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Z’tl: Ve’atah Tetzaveh Es Bnei Yisrael--and you shall command the children of Israel.” (Shemos 27:20) “The first word of this pasuk, Ve’atah, and you, is entirely unnecessary, because the second word Tetzaveh starts with a Tuff, and that in itself means you. The word Tetzaveh in itself means and you shall command.” What do we need the first word, Ve’atah for? In reality, Hashem is teaching us how to command others; how to inspire others; how to teach others. Ve’atah, and you: The way you act, the way you walk, the way you talk, will be the measure of success you will have in Tetzaveh, in your commanding others to do. If you want others to follow you, then watch yourself first. If you want to impress good deeds and good characteristics upon others, then practice what you preach. Character cannot be taught. It must be caught. You must want to emulate the character of your parents, Rabbonim or leaders because you have become impressed by them. A Rebbi must inject his own personality into his students if he wants them to follow in his footsteps. The students must be captivated by his Midos, by his characteristics. The degree of indoctrination is not in proportion to the knowledge acquired. It is the personality of the Rebbe that becomes part of his students. They are caught up in the aura of the greatness of their Rebbe. Thus is character molded. Yehoshua was the foremost student of Moshe Rabbeinu. He became the leader of K’lal Yisrael after his Rebbe passed away. Nowhere in the Torah do we refer to Yehoshua as the talmid (student) of Moshe Rabbeinu. He is rather called Meshareis Moshe”--he is referred to as the person who served Moshe. Yehoshua was always with Moshe. He observed Moshe all the time. This molded Yehoshua into the great leader that he became. How can I ever forget the influence that my Rebbi, Reb Shlomo Heiman, Z’tl, had on all of us. When I think of the way he spoke, the way he smiled, the way he walked in the street, I can actually visualize him. Good Midos shone on his face. It became much easier to grow up with good character when you had a Rebbe like him to inspire you. As you left Rebbi’s home, there was one little step, by itself, before you reached the entire flight of steps leading to the outside. Rebbe always walked with you till that one step. Besides the mitzvah of walking somebody to the door (which Rebbe always did), he would say: “Watch that step, dont trip and fall.” The greatest obligation that we have to students and children is to inspire them with wanting to become men of character and goodness. We may not always be successful in the teaching of the various phases of Torah, but we can be successful in teaching others to behave and grow properly.”





Although we cannot supply you with food for the meal--perhaps with some food to accompany the meal:


1.  At the outset of last week’s Parasha, Teruma, Hashem commands B’nai Yisrael with the words “VeYikchu Li Teruma --they shall take for Me Teruma.  This week’s Parasha however begins with the words “VeYikchu Eilecha--they shall take for you Shemen Zayis, highly refine olive oil.  Rabbi Schwartz explains why the Parasha begins with Ve’atah--but what is the explanation for this change from the great Li-Lishmi lesson of Parashas Terumah to Moshe Rabbeinu’s personal involvement with the Shemen Zayis here? Your suggestions are most welcome!


2.  It is not only women who bring honor to themselves and their people by their dress and comportment. The Bigdei Kehuna Gedola of Aharon as Kohen Gadol are described in the Torah as clothing which is LeChavod U’LeSifores--clothing that brings and displays honor and glory to the position.  The clothing of the regular Kohanim are also described in the Torah with the very same words of LeChavod U’LeSifores.  There is a moving message--even if one does not don the garb of a Rav or the Elders of the congregation--he is still an important part of the K’lal and brings Kavod V’Sifores to himself and his people in his own way. Although Aharon’s sons did not wear Eight Garments--they did wear Four Garments of special dignity.  One must therefore be mindful--especially when going to pray or even when making a bracha in his own home that he also bring Kavod V’Sifores (or c’v the opposite) to his Avodas Hashem by his dress and comport.  A person who wears a cap or jacket to Mincha or Ma’ariv with a cartoon character or perhaps another western world symbol highlighted or displayed upon it may be demonstrating the same (or negative) degree of Kavod V’Sifores to his Avodah as the person touting a Bluetooth-equipped ear during Shemone Esrei. This Shabbos is a time to reattach ourselves to the dignity of the Avodah --by rethinking the regard we intend give to it in our everyday lives!


Hakhel Note: The concept of wearing proper clothing for davening is codified in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 98:4): “VeRaui Sheyiheyu Lo Malbushim Na’im Meyuchadim LeTefillah Kemo Bigdei Kehunah--it is befitting for a person to have nice clothing especially for davening like the Bigdei Kehunah.” The Shulchan Aruch explains that this is because our Tefillos are in the place of Karbonos--each person is his own Kohein!


3.  The first of the Kohen Gadol’s Eight Garments listed in the Parasha is the Choshen.  Chazal (Zevachim 88B) teach that the Choshen brings forgiveness for injustices in monetary matters.  We can well understand why this article of the Bigdei Kehuna is listed first--for, after all, the first question that a person will be asked after his 120 year stay in this world is Nossasa VeNosata Be’Emuna--did you deal honestly with people?  Straightening out our actions in monetary and financial matters is a primary matter --a matter of first concern.  As we get set to do the Avodah-we must first be a N’Ki Kapayim--as our living in Olam Hazeh requires that clean hands be the pre-requisite for elevation of our spirit.  When we think of what to do or how to conduct ourselves in a particular monetary matter--let us visualize the holy Choshen--and let us remember it as the very first of the Kohen Gadol’s Eight Garments!




REMINDER--EIS RATZON! Several days ago, we had pointed out that HaRav Mattiyahu Salomon, Shlita, brought a special Tefillah from the Chida to be recited in a Eis Ratzon--to allow all further Tefillos on a daily basis to be connected to the Eis Ratzon. By the following link http://tinyurl.com/zraeg8z  we provide the amazing actual text of HaRav Salomon’s teaching from his Sefer Matnas Chaim.



PURIM AMERICA! After the initial Purim, throughout the ages there have been local Purims celebrated in certain communities for miraculous Yeshuos from enemies of our people in this communities. We should not lose sight of the miracles that surround us in this regard even in our time. As is well known, B. Hussein Obama, in one of his last acts as President, intended to ‘contribute’ over $200 million to the Palestinian cause. His henchwoman, Mrs. Clinton, as exposed in her hacked emails, expressed her hatred for the Moskowitz family for purchasing numerous parcels of Arab-owned land for the benefit of the Jewish people. As we celebrate Purim, and as we will recite on the Leil HaSeder: “Shelo Echad Bilevad…VeHakadosh Boruch Hu Matzileinu MiYadam”, we should recognize the recent miracle of our being saved from haters of our people. Lest we think that politics is a relatively recent historical phenomenon, we need only look to the Megillah in which Achashveirosh told Esther HaMalka that he will grant any wish that she has up to but not including “Chatzi HaMalchus”.  Chazal teach that this refers to the building of the Bais HaMikdash--which is a request he would not grant. Why did he not simply say that--and instead veil it with the term “Chatzi HaMalchus”? We suggest that the Megillah is revealing the ‘politics’ of the time to us--and making sure we understand our Yeshuos from so-called politics in our time as well. Let us give Shevach V’Hoda’ah at our Purim Seudah over the recent unexpected yeridah v’nefila of Sonei Yisrael...”Shoshanas Yaakov Tzahala V’Sameicha!”



LEIL PURIM--FLATBUSH TEHILLIM B’TZIBBUR! On Motza’ei Shabbos at K’hal Zichron Mordechai, 2645 Nostrand Avenue, the entire Sefer Tehillim will be recited commencing at 10:30pm. All are invited to participate in this Eis Ratzon Kiddush Sheim Shomayim.





1. “As you had previously noted--please remind your readers that water does not count as a manah of Mishloach Manos.”


2. “Regarding the wonderful Gematria of Mordechai HaYehudi and Shakai--there is another amazing related Gematria. That is--the Gematria of Mordechai HaYehudi and Shakai (each 314) is also the Gematria of the first and last word of the Megillah--teaching us that all of the events in the Megillah--from beginning to end are from Hashem!


3. “If we are to do Teshuvah Bechol Yom--all the more so on Purim itself!


4. “As I focus on Tefillah which is so important on Purim--I will try to remember that one of the reasons Chazal give for Esther’s inviting Haman to the Mishteh was, and accordingly be lax in their Tefillos. Esther was teaching us so that the Jew’s would not think that they had a ‘friend in office’ that at all times there is one and only one Source for our Yeshuos--Purim is such a great time to go directly to our Source for them!”





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.) cites the Pasuk in the Megillah for this: “Shivas Sarei Paras U’Madai” (Esther 1: 14 ). Every Shabbos--we are reminded of the Purim miracle! 


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


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 hatred 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 descendants of Haman “learned Torah in Bnei Brak” (Gittin 57B) is because they were the descendants 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.



HILCHOS PESACH FOR THE PURIM SEUDAH: 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).


We provide two Halachos for you to begin:


1. The Rema (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429:1) begins Hilchos Pesach by writing that it is our Minhag to give wheat to the poor in order to help them celebrate Pesach. The Mishna Berurah (seif katan 3) notes that this Minhag dates back to the time of Chazal.


2. Rabbi Shimon Eider, Z’tl, in the Halachos of Pesach writes that in lieu of wheat, some have the custom to distribute flour or other food supplies. In our time, most communities distribute money for the poor, in order for them to purchase their needs. The leaders of our community do not tax or otherwise assess their constituents, but instead everyone is expected to give to the best of his ability.


Hakhel Note: As we connect Matanos L’Evyonim to Ma’os Chitim--let us remember the Pasuk (Yeshaya 1:27): “Tzion B’Mishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveha B’Tzedaka”--speedily and in our day!




MISHNAYOS MESECHTA PESACHIM:  If you start on Purim (which is 30 days before Pesach) and learn just three Mishnayos a day--you will complete the entire Mishnayos Mesechta Pesachim--for Pesach! 



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



TEFILLAH AHL HAGEULAH--ON PURIM: Once again, may we suggest that on the auspicious day of Purim we recite the Tefillah Al HaGeulah we have previously distributed: http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  (Hebrew version) and  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq  (English version).



AN IMPORTANT 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 demeanor. 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!”





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, Z’tl, brings that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Braun, Z’tl, 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).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!”


Hakhel Note: HaRav Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, points out that when giving, your feelings and attitude towards the fifth, tenth, fifteenth and twentieth recipient, should be no different than your feelings and attitude towards the first!


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, many more!!


B. Some have the custom of eating zaronim at the Purim Seudah, in remembrance of the food that Esther, as well as Doniyel, Chananya, Mishael and Azarya had to eat while in the royal court. Some Poskim hold that Zaronim need not necessarily be beans or seeds--but can be any vegetables.


C. 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, Z’tl) Hakhel Note: For a listing of Rabbi Pearl’s Shiurim visit www.SeeTorah.com


D. 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! Remember--Mishna Yomis beginning March 30th!




A GRAGER FOR ONE AND ALL! 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.



THE HALACHOS OF ONE WHO IS INTOXICATED: The following Important Halachos were provided to us by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita:


1. Three Halachic Levels of Intoxication

Chazal classify a person who has been drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages into one of three halachic levels of intoxication.


A. High (shosuy) – he drank three or more ounces of wine or one to two ounces of whiskey, and feels relaxed and somewhat euphoric (“high”). He has minor impairment of reasoning and memory but is in control of his actions and his speech.


B. Recognizably Drunk (shikur) - i.e., to the extent that he is “unable to speak to a king.” The Poskim explain that a person is in this category when his drunkenness can be recognized by his difficulty in walking or balance, and/or if his speech is slurred. One would not want to be in a position to have to speak to his boss, and would certainly be unable to speak to a king in that condition.


C. Drunk “Like Lot” (shikur k’Lot) – i.e., he is disoriented and has inadequate comprehension of where he is or what he is doing.


2. Davening while Under the Influence

The Shulchan Aruch states that one should l’chatchilla not daven (Sh’mone Esrei or Sh’ma) if he is even just a little high. Rather, he should try to eliminate his intoxication by taking a walk, or a short nap, before endeavoring to daven. Nevertheless, on Purim some Poskim permit a person who is “high” to daven l’chatchilla, provided that he is not at the intoxication level of “recognizably drunk”. In such a case, he should take care to daven from a siddur.


According to all views, if he is at the intoxication level of “recognizably drunk” he must absolutely refrain from davening. If he insists on davening in that condition, his davening is not valid, and he must daven again when he is sober.


Thus, if after the Purim seuda one was at the level of “recognizably drunk” he should not attempt to daven maariv. Rather he should go to sleep and try to wake up before alos hashachar (72 minutes before sunrise) and daven at home. If he was unable to get up, he should daven a second Shemone Esrei at shacharis as restitution for missing maariv.


Hakhel Note: One should advise those who are in level B or C as to how to properly conduct themselves as to davening.



Our Annual Purim Bonus Below! Over the last two weeks, we have provided questions and answers, which are culled together here, along with additional questions:



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 Yisrael.


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 descendant 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 Yisrael.


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 Pashegen HaKesav’ (Esther 3:14 )--what does the word “Pashegen” mean?

ANSWER: Rashi and the Ibn Ezra write that Pashegen 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 Shabbos and Yom Tov, performing a Bris Mila and the wearing of Tefillin (see Targum Sheini).


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:  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 the 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: 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 Tzahala 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 “Zachur 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) in our time 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: According to the Sefer Adar U’Purim by HaRav Yoel Schwartz, Shlita: 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 .


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: 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!


 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 Yisrael, as Shushan Purim is celebrated in cities walled from the time of Yehoshua ben Nun--which included many cities in Eretz Yisrael.  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!


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



1. A Vasikin Minyan in Flatbush is beginning to daven 15 minutes earlier on Purim in order for the Tzibbur to recite Tehillim B’Tzibbur on this special Eis Ratzon. Perhaps your Shul can do the same before its Shacharis minyan!


2. One should be sure to prepare a list of what he will be davening for on Purim, so that it is thought through in advance and readily available for timely use.


3. Several days ago, we had pointed out that HaRav Mattiyahu Salomon, Shlita, brought a special Tefillah from the Chida to be recited in a Eis Ratzon--to allow all further Tefillos on a daily basis to be connected to the Eis Ratzon. By the following link http://tinyurl.com/zraeg8z  we provide the amazing actual text of HaRav Salomon’s teaching from his Sefer Matnas Chaim.


4. May we suggest that on the auspicious day of Purim we recite the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah we have previously distributed: http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  (Hebrew version) and  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq  (English version).



WRITE IT DOWN!  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! 



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





A.  Give two examples in the Megillah where Hashem provided for the Refuah before the Makkah.


B.  Esther told Achashveirosh that the decrees against the Jewish people were Lehashmid LeHarog U’Le’abeid.  This means that we were saved from three different decrees--what were they? 


C.  There is a dispute among Tanaim as to where the Megillah needs to be read from.  According to Rebbi Yehuda--from where must we begin to read? Hint:  Note Rebbi Yehuda’s name.


D.  The Megillah contains the phrase Rochvei HaRechesh (Esther 8:10)--what does the word HaRachesh mean?


E.  It is a Minhag Yisrael to eat hamantaschen.  Why--did Haman have bizarre ears? a strange wallet? weird pockets? What is the basis of the Minhag?


F.  The Megillah (Esther 7:8)  teaches that the last thing that Achashveirosh saw before ordering Haman executed was the tree that Haman intended to hang Mordechai on. Chazal, in fact, teach that the allusion to Haman in the Torah is from the Pasuk: “HaMin HaEitz Asher Tzivisicha Levilti Achol Mimenu Achalta.(Bereishis 3:11) What is the meaning of the association of Haman with trees?



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


HAKHEL NOTE: The Luach Davar B’Ito brings from Rebbi Yitzchak MiVorka, Z’tl, that the three days before Purim correspond to the three days before Shavuos--the Sheloshes Yemei Hagbalah--and the more that a person purifies himself to receive the Torah of Purim--Kiymu V’Kiblu--the more he will succeed. Let’s get to work!




A PURIM MOMENT!  We provide by the following link--http://tinyurl.com/yjsytzl  a flyer relating to The Power of Purim that has been distributed for many years. Please feel free to distribute and redistribute!


In a very similar vein, by the following link--http://tinyurl.com/ysf6m7  you will find an important message distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. Hakhel Note: Dovid HaMelech teaches us in Hallel (Tehillim 116:1 et. al.) “Ahavti Ki Yishma Hashem Es Koli Tachanunai…Dalosi Veli Yehoshia--I love Him, for Hashem hears my voice, my supplications…I was brought low, but He saved me.” Chazal teach that even when we are poor in Mitzvos, Hashem saves us through our Tefillos--let us activate our Koach HaTefillah on Purim--and urge others to do so as well!  


Additional Note:  It is fascinating to recall that Rav Amram Gaon writes that the Minhag in the two main Yeshivos during the time of the Geonim, Sura and Pumbedisa, was to actually recite Tachanun on Purim--“for it is a day of miracles, and upon which we were redeemed, and so we must ask for mercy that we will be redeemed in the end in the same way that we were initially redeemed.”  As we will soon enter the period between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah of Mitzrayim, 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.



LEARNING FROM THE GEMATRIA OF MORDECHAI HAYEHUDI: We once again 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!





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. 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 Yisrael 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”!



MACHATZIS HASHEKEL: 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 Matanos L’Evyonim Kiryat Sefer dollar for dollar match for Bnei Torah--remember yadeliezer.org!!



10 Adar

TOMID! HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points out that the Rema begins Shulchan Aruch with the Pasuk: “Sheivisi Hashem L’Negdi Somid” (Tehillim 16:8), and ends Shulchan Aruch with a Pasuk: “V’Tov Lev Mishteh Tomid” (Mishlei 15:15). HaRav Salomon teaches that the Rema wants us to understand that all aspects of life [Orach Chaim!] are miracles, and that there is no teva or way of the world. Rather, everything that occurs in our lives is B’Hashgacha Pratis, and we must realize that Hashem is always a Tov U’Maitiv, with even difficult situations, hurt and pain part of a larger good. The intricacies of the Neis Purim over a nine year period, with interlocking events and people should help us realize that not only do we constitute living miracles--but that miracles are constantly occurring to us and all around us each and every moment of our lives. Hashem is with us--Tomid!



QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: 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 casted 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 Shalachu 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 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!



DEMONSTRATING LOVE OF HASHEM: 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.



PESAKIM OF HARAV SHMUEL KAMENETSKY, SHLITA:  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

GIVING THANKS!  We may forget all too quickly the Chasodim that Hashem performs for us, and the Refuos and Yeshuos that we are granted.  May we suggest that a person keep on his desk or in a conspicuous place the bottle of antibiotics that he has now finished, the remaining cold tablets that he did not have to take or the ace bandage that once served him well and/or that he does not have to use.  Thinking and thanking--will hopefully lead to more grounds and causes--for thanks!



RASHI’S ANSWER: Many are familiar with the question as to why Mordechai needed to act so quickly when, after all, the gezeirah to annihilate the Jews would not take effect for another eleven months. Rashi (Esther 4:14) writes that Mordechai told Esther that she must take action immediately--for who knows if she will be in the same position of power the following year at the time of the decree. Hakhel Note: We learn from Mordechai that there may be legitimate reasons for delay--but that we should not use them unless one is absolutely certain that he will not forfeit the opportunity or the circumstance that he currently possesses. HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl, taught that atzlus is the bad middah from which all other bad middos come! Our renewed zerizus should begin even before Purim by preparing to make the most of this great 24 hour period!



QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions and answers:


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 Mekt 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).



PESAKIM OF HARAV SHMUEL KAMENETSKY, SHLITA:  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. As in all matters relating to Halacha, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek regarding his particular facts and circumstances.




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 B’Tzibbur.  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.



IMPORTANT PURIM INSIGHTS:  At a Hakhel Shiur on the meaning of Purim, Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita, made many great points, including the following:


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


IMAGINE THE Z’CHUSIM:  The z’chusim which can be created by the thousands of us getting together to have Kavanna--in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei, are literally astounding.  Davening properly, that is, having Kavanna for the simple translation of the words of the first Bracha, which we are all capable of doing with little effort, can convert a lackluster Shemone Esrei into a true prayer to Hashem.  The results will B’EH be Refuos and Yeshuos for K’lal Yisrael.



8 Adar

SPECIAL PURIM ZECHUS: Received from The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation--‘Seven years ago on Purim night a mini-revolution occurred, and we continue this Purim ‘revolution’.A beautiful Purim night learning program began l’ilui nishmas Habochur Hanechmod Yeshayohu Dov Eckstein A”H who learned on what would be his last ‘Purim’ night. Purim was a very special day for Shaya A”H. Although it may sound hard to believe, except for his bar-mitvah year when he leined the megillah only 7 times, he leined the megillah over 10 times every Purim for those home-bound or in the hospital and local nursing homes. For more details please click on the following link:  https://www.jewishboxoffice.com/ch/purimlearning With your kind donation you will be creating DOUBLE zechus. The money will be given to bona fide Tzedokah *and* a bochur will learn in your zechus TWO hours on Purim night.

May the zechus of this special Purim learning--A Torah D’Rabbim give you all the brochos and yeshu’ois that you need”   



MISHLOACH MANOS--BRACHOS ALERT: At this time of year, many new products surface, which contain ingredients in various proportions, and in which the appropriate bracha rishona (and bracha acharona) is not clear. When shopping for one’s own home--and certainly when shopping for Mishloach Manos--one should attempt to purchase only those products on which the brachos are clear. After all, no one would want to be machshil an adult or child with the wrong bracha. Undoubtedly, an ikar of Mishloach Manos are the brachos that you are being mezake another Jew to make!



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



A MEGILLAH NOTE--Q & A: The following Q & A--as has been provided to us in the past 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.




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 chachmim 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.”




THE TREE OF HAMAN: HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl (Rav Schwalb 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 Hara. 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 Hara--”No, I am not going to begin—the one word of Lashon Hara, 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! We will not follow Haman--we will follow Mordechai!



IMAGINE THE Z’CHUSIM:  The z’chusim which can be created by the thousands of us getting together to have dedicated Kavannah--in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei over the week are literally astounding.  Davening properly, that is, having Kavannah for the simple translation of the words of the first Bracha, which we are all capable of doing with little effort, can convert a lackluster Shemone Esrei into a true prayer to Hashem.  The results will B’EH be Refuos and Yeshuos for K’lal Yisrael.


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



8 Adar






9 Adar








10 Adar







11 Adar







12 Adar






□ Maariv


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14 Adar








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5 Adar

THE EVOLVING DIGITAL CHALLENGE: We have been quoting the valuable book The Evolving Digital Challenge, by Rabbi Nechemiah Gottlieb, Shlita. Readers have asked how it can be obtained. They may contact TAG at 732-730-1824, or email digitalchallenge@taghelpline.org.



AN IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER! As Purim approaches, one may feel that he has to be a little bit tighter with Tzedaka until Purim comes, and may also feel uneasy about all of the contributions on Purim as well.  There is a story related about R’ Itzele Petteburger, Z’tl, who reached into his pocket and gave a stranger Tzedaka.  After the person left, R’ Itzele remarked that he felt no difficulty, no hold-back, with his act of giving--so the Tzedaka in that case was probably not a true one.  The Yetzer Hara would only bring about hesitation and resistance when the Mitzvah was real--otherwise, he will let it go by with pleasure. 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!





A. Many individually wrapped candies, lollipops, ices, and other Shabbos Party type treats have lettering and/or designs just at the spots that you would open them to take out the candy or treat. This constitutes an Issur DeRabbanan of Mochek (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 340; Mishna Berurah, seif katan 17). We note that this problem is true of ‘heimishe’ products as well, as the manufacturers do not assume that you or your children will necessarily be opening these items on Shabbos. Perhaps we should add to the list of Erev Shabbos things to do-- checking packaging of this kind!


B. According to the Sefer HaShabbos BeTifarta by HaRav Avrohom Adas, Shlita, reattaching a broomstick back to a broom either by screwing it back in, or by pushing it with force back into place, constitutes an Issur D’Oraysa of Boneh. He likewise rules that one may not return a belt buckle to a belt on Shabbos.


C. Several important Borer points  from the Sefer “Pnei Shabbos--Halachos HaSchichos” by HaRav Yosef Glick, Shlita  of Yerushalayim, which provides the answers to many common Shabbos Shailos: (i) One may not pour off the liquid from cholent unless he leaves some amount of liquid in the cholent, or eats a little bit of the liquid that he poured off—so that he is selecting the Ochel (that which he now wants) from the Pesoles (that which he does not now want) for immediate use; (ii) When clearing the table, one should make sure that the dirty plates are somewhat separated from the plates with remaining food on them that he wants to put away, in order to avoid  the potential borer of separating  plates mixed together -- removing  dirty plates from the table to discard their contents while removing plates with food to store their contents. Likewise, there should be distance kept on  kitchen counters between the dirty plates and plates with items to be discarded, and the remaining clean plates, or items to be stored, in order to avoid borer issues of selecting Pesoles from Ochel—or even Ochel from Pesoles for non-immediate use; (iii) One should not remove noodles from chicken noodle soup simply because he does not want to eat them (and vice versa, one may not  pour out the chicken  soup in order to eat the noodles only), as this constitutes borer-- selecting the Pesoles from the Ochel; (iv) One should not remove the frosting or cream layer from a cake, unless he also removes some of the cake along with it, or leaves some of the cream on the cake; (v) If one took a fruit out of a bowl to eat, and then did not like the way it looked, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, writes that it may be best to put it back into the same bowl and not somewhere else, so it does not appear as borer; (vi) One is permitted to take the peel off fruits and vegetables immediately prior to consumption--even if the outer layer is inedible (such as a banana peel), because this is deemed to be its ‘derech achila.’ If a peel is otherwise commonly eaten, such as an apple peel, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether one can peel the apple for non-immediate consumption. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, forbids it; (vii)  If a candy wrapper is stuck to the candy, one should only remove the candy close to its consumption, as the wrapper would then be treated as the peel of a fruit;(viii)If one has different flavors of soda in the pantry mixed up together, and wants to select a few flavors to put into the refrigerator for the Shabbos Seudah in a few hours, there is an issue of borer, as he is selecting for non-immediate use. Accordingly, one should keep the same flavors grouped together so that he is not selecting one flavor from another, or, in the alternative, not be selective about the soda he is taking but simply picking up two or three bottles of whatever may come to his hand. Another alternative may be to immediately drink a little of the soda  one selects before putting it in the refrigerator, so that he is  selecting the soda for immediate use; (ix) One should avoid peeling corn off the cob unless it is close to the meal (even then there may be a separate issue of Dush--although one may eat corn directly from the cob; as an aside, one should ask his Posek whether he should eat corn on the cob or whether there is an issue of tola’im with respect to it); (x) There are various  opinions as to how close to the Seudah one is permitted to peel vegetables, set the table, and perform other Ochel Mitoch Pesoles activities. One should definitely not rely upon his own ‘common sense’ in this area, which could involve several Issurei D’Oraysa within the preparation of one Seudah. Instead, one should most definitely consult with his Rav or Posek in any case of doubt. If one never has any issues or doubts in this delicate area--than he is either being extra-specially superbly careful-- or he should immediately commence the study or review of the Halachos of borer, to help himself and others properly observe Shabbos Kodesh!





A. This week, we are introduced for the first time to the Mishkan, which we sometimes view as only a “temporary” structure (actually used for over 400 years).  Chazal, however, teach us that the Torah emphasizes that the Mishkan was made from “Atzai Shitim Omdim”--”standing” Shitim wood--in order for us to know that the Mishkan will “stand” forever.  The question we pose is--why is this so?  After all, once the first Bais HaMikdash was built, were there not many more miracles and much more glory to Hashem there, being the holiest place in the world?  Why must the Mishkan “stand”--remain with us forever?  We look forward to your thoughts.


B. As we see in tomorrow’s Parasha, the Aron consisted of solid wood, plated inside and outside with gold.  In spite of the fact that the Aron was plated with gold much more valuable than the wood it covered, the Aron is nevertheless referred to in the Torah as the “Aron Atzei Shitim--the acacia wood Aron”.  Why is it that the Aron is described as wooden--and not as a more valuable and respected golden Aron?  HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, answers that, in fact, wood more aptly describes the Aron because wood is something that grows and that regenerates.  Indeed, even if one cuts down a tree to the ground, its roots are left and a new tree can sprout forth.  Gold may be valuable in this world, but it has no inherent capacity to live or grow.  Our Torah is much more aptly described with wood for “Etz Chaim He--it is a living tree”--it enables one--even one who was down and out--to reinvigorate himself and renew his life.  Rav Pincus notes that this is the special nature of the month of Adar, and eventually of Purim, as well.  It is a time of Hischadshus--of a new lease on life both physically and spiritually.  It is no wonder then, that after experiencing the miracles of Purim, our people’s immediate reaction was “Kimu V’kiblu”--a rededication and revival to Torah commitment.


C. Chazal teach that one who gives money to a poor person is misboreich with six brachos, while one who additionally gives him words of encouragement and support is blessed with eleven brachos by Hashem.  A wonderful explanation of the concept is presented in the Sefer MiShulchan Gavoha, on this week’s Parasha:  There is a commodity more precious to a human being than even money--it is his time.  When a person takes the time to encourage another, he is giving of himself something more precious than gold. At a Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita, once noted that he passed a man whom he had not seen in a while on the street.  In passing, he asked him how everything was.  As they were walking by each other the man responded:  “Lo BeSeder--things are not well.”  Rabbi Brezak heard these words as he was already past the person and had a quick debate in his mind.  He was in a rush, in fact an absolute rush, to get to a store that was going to close. The matter was urgent for him.  But, how could he leave a man who just said that things were not well--and now 20 or 30 meters behind him?!  His Yetzer HaTov got the best of him, he ran back towards the distraught person, and gave him words of care and Chizuk for a few moments. A few days later the man called him to express his Hakaras HaTov to Rabbi Brezak for stopping to talk with him. Because of the desperateness of the situation at the time, the man was actually contemplating suicide--and Rabbi Brezak’s thoughtfulness and words--reversed his thinking and frame of mind!  This is literally Chaim BeYad HaLashon--and we are all capable of it! 


D.  The Shach writes that it is possible that on every utensil made in the Bais HaMikdash, a separate Bracha was made of “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vetzivanu Al Asiyas Kli Ploni”  so that kedusha would come on to the Kli not only through its making-but also through the dibbur of the Bracha!  Accordingly, we once again remind our readers that every time we say the words “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vetzivanu...” we are bringing kedusha on to the Mitzvah we are performing or upon the item on which we are performing the mitzvah. 


E. We learn that those who were Nedivei Lev--givers from the heart--were able to accomplish an incredible task--the building of a house and its furnishings the likes of which were never built before--and which is in fact hidden away to this very day and forever thereafter.  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim teaches us that there is something even more special than a Nadiv, a giver--it is a Nadiv HaShalem--a complete giver.  He writes that a Nadiv HaShalem is one who gives--whether large or small amounts before being asked to do so.  By doing this, he performs the act of giving not out of coercion or embarrassment, not to be ‘left alone’, and not even out of rethinking or reconsideration--but purely because he is a giver.  It may take a little time to get used to--but if one could sway his charitable donations, even if in only small amounts, in this direction--he will actually move towards Shleimus in the act of giving.  The Torah teaches us the value of the Nedivei Lev...let’s see if we can make this attribute a part of ourselves in the most complete way possible!



NOT HIDDEN AWAY IN A TOWER:  Why was the Torah put into an Aron and then into the Kodesh HaKodoshim seemingly isolated from the people? When we posed this question in the past, we received the following excellent responses from readers:


A.  “If the Torah would just be “there” for us, it wouldn’t make us want it at all.  One must view and seek out the Torah just as one would a hidden treasure in order to properly appreciate how invaluable it is to our lives”.  Hakhel Note:  We can apply this lesson daily by treating our Maggidei Shiur and Seforim with an added level of appreciation, care and respect--for they are very much helping us to reach an essential part of our life--the ‘VeSein Chelkeinu BeSoresecha’--uncovering and revealing the Torah for us, so that we can attain our life’s potential and portion in Torah knowledge and study.  One should very much try to improve his hakara, his recognition and affection to those who help him take the Torah out of the Aron and imbibe Hashem’s Wisdom into his being daily-and everlastingly!


B. “The Declaration of Independence is kept under lock and key in a pneumatically sealed chamber with atmospheric conditions perfect for its preservation, and back in the times when it was written, copies were disseminated among the states for their publicizing the Declaration. Lehavdil, we need to have one copy of the Torah that is sacrosanct as a proof that over all of these millennia, not a dot has been changed in the Torah.  We will need this proof one day when the nations that surround us make the final accusations, and the original scroll will appear and we will be able to compare that the scrolls that we read in Shul today are exact copies of the original scrolls written by Moshe Rabbeinu and dictated by Hashem Yisborach.  And since that will be Y’may Mashiach, Am Yisrael--and the very same Torah will continue to live L’olam Va’ed!”


Hakhel Note: We look forward to your responses as well!



MIKDASH ME’AT: At this moment in our lives, although we may not have the ultimate Mishkan or Bais HaMikdash, we do have our Bais Haknesses and Bais HaMidrash, as our Mikdashei Me’at.  According to many Rishonim, the Mitzvas Asei MiD’oraysah of Mikdoshi Tira’u applies to our Mikdashei Me’at as well.  We provide below several points and pointers from Hilchos Bais HaKnesses (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 150-153), as excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah:


A. It is a great Mitzvah to donate Sefarim to a Shul or Bais Midrash for study.  The Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De’ah 244) writes that one fulfills the words of “Oseh Tzedaka Bechol Ais--doing an act of righteousness at all times” by doing so.


B. The Shulchan Aruch (151:1) itself rules that simply sitting in our Mikdash Me’at is a Mitzvah, as Dovid Hamelech writes:  “Ashrei Yoshvei Veisecha”.


C. Chazal teach that if a person embarrasses another in front of a Talmid Chochom, then he is an apikores and does not have a chelek in Olam Haba.  All the more so, writes the Mishna Berurah, would this apply to one who disgraces his friend in front of the Sefer Torah and the Kavod Hashechina--in Shul.  (151: Mishna Berurah, seif katan 2)


D. One should not enter a Mikdash Me’at with a knife or similar object, because the Torah lengthens a person’s days, and a knife shortens a person’s days in this world.  (151: Mishna Berurah, seif katan 22, Dirshu Note 20)


E. It is inappropriate of antennas to be placed on top of a Shul, and if it was done against the will of those who daven there, they should not take rent or a fee for the antenna--for it is forbidden to make profit from the bizayon of a Shul.  (Shevet HaLevi, quoted in Dirshu Note 26)


F. It may be permissible to sell a Sefer Torah in order for a Shul to acquire Gemaros and Halacha Sefarim--because this may be considered putting one’s study into practice. 


G. One fulfills a Mitzvah if he enters and leaves a Shul by different entranceways; this is based upon the pasuk relating to the Bais HaMikdash:  “HaBa’ah Derech Sha’ar Tzafon LeHishtachavos Yetzeih Derech Sha’ar Negev” (Mishna Berurah, ibid., seif katan 21).  The Mishna Berurah explains that this demonstrates your chavivus to the Bais HaKnesses.


Hakhel Note: To get a better feeling of the awe and empowerment we should feel upon entering a Shul, we provide some of the closing words of HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, to the Sefer Tomer Devora:


“As one enters the Bais Knesses, he should recite the verse “V’Ani B’Rov Chasdecha…--and I, through Your abundant kindness, come into Your house; I bow toward Your holy sanctuary in awe of You” (Tehillim 5:8).  With this, one binds himself to the three Avos, as “Your abundant kindness” corresponds to Avrohom, “I bow toward Your holy sanctuary” corresponds to Yitzchok, and “In awe of You” corresponds to Yaakov.  His prayer will then be in a propitious time, for the outflow of His Compassion will be drawn downwards towards him.”


During the upcoming weeks, as we learn more and more about the holy Mishkan, let us make a special effort to have the proper regard, respect and appreciation for the sanctuaries of Hashem that are in our midst!



BUILDING AN ARON: One last thought: We all try to improve our learning, for, after all, “VeTalmud Torah KeNeged Kulam--Torah study is equivalent to them all.”  As we learn of the Aron’s construction in this week’s Parasha, we realize that we must also build ourselves to house the Torah within us. Every individual knows himself best, and can make real progress and strides in his own way.  However, one area which may be particularly frustrating to many in their Torah growth is their inability to remember where they learned something--e.g., where exactly it is in Shulchan Aruch or the Gemara, which commentary said it, or what the particular language may be.  If a person would take but one item a day that he has learned that day, write down its source, and try to commit the item and its source to memory whether through memory association techniques or otherwise (it will obviously require review), than over the course of a year--he will know more than 350 sources!  Each and every day has so much potential inherent within it--if we merely ‘tap’ on it we can accomplish so much over a month, a year, a decade...120 years!



4 Adar



1.  If you start today learning Mishnayos Megillah and learn just three Mishnayos a day (after Shacharis, Maariv, etc.), you will complete all of the Mishnayos in the Mesechta on Purim, and if you then continue to learn three (3) mishnayos per day of 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 for Pesach!


2. 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!



MEGILLAH READING--TODAY!  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). 



MAKE SURE THAT YOUR SHUL JOINS YESHIVAS MORDECHAI HATZADDIK THIS PURIM!  Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzaddik, in special session for one hour of 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!), all it takes is some simple signs as to the time, several nice raffle prizes, and perhaps a door prize for each child participating.  For further information on a discounted door prize available, please contact avotusa@kewnet.com., and for signs or raffle ticket forms, please respond to this Bulletin



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.  Hakhel Note: We had previously pointed out that a Halachic issue is raised as to whether one may daven in a Purim costume. The Dirshu Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 91, Note 17) brings a Teshuvah from the Shevet HaLevi (10:18) in which the Shevet HaLevi rules that if a Chossid is dressed as a misnagid, or vice versa, he may daven in the costume, provided that he is serious and his body is covered. Although the Dirshu Note appears to read this ruling more expansively, one should consult with his Rav or Posek with respect to other costumes.



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



QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions 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:  What are the ten significant kingdoms that span all of human history?


    ANSWER: (i) Hashem when He created the world, and 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 Baval; (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”.


2. 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).


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:  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--that 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: 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 Avrohom Avinu’s mother was also Amasla’i (Bas Karnevo). One suggested reason for the two mothers having the same name is that whenever Haman Bas Amasla’i is mentioned, it will be me’orer the zechus of Avrohom Avinu--just as when we mention the city of Chevron, we are me’orer the zechus Avos (see Yoma 28B).



3 Adar

QUOTABLE QUOTE: All the beneficial features of technology are window dressings intended to give the Yetzer Hara a credible way to entice us to buy into the digital culture. If we are to survive this test, our first step is to recognize the true essence of digital technology and the culture it is creating for what they are.” [Excerpted from The Evolving Digital Challenge by Rabbi Nechemiah Gottlieb, Shlita].





I.  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!


II. 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!



MAY IT BE IN OUR DAYS AS WELL!  The Luach Davar B’ito records from Sefer Ezra (6:14-18) that K’lal Yisrael, led by Chagai and Zecharia, completed and celebrated the successful construction of the Bayis Sheini.  The Luach suggests that one read these Pesukim in Ezra. May we re-live these events--through the completion of Bayis Sheini, 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 teach us when there are two Adars, we celebrate Purim in Adar Sheini so that we place the Geulah of Mitzrayim in close proximity with the Geulas Purim (and hopefully the Geulah Sheleimah this month!).



QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:  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: 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 Megillahs 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, the Pasuk found in the Megillah (9:29) records “Vatichtov Esther HaMalka…U’Mordechai HaYehudi--mentioning Esther’s name first.”


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


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


D. Esther was the one who requested of the Chachomim: ‘Kisvuni L’Doros--write down my story for future generations.’ (Megillah 7A).


E. 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.


F. To remind us that because Esther reported what Bigsan and Seresh intended to do in the name of Mordechai 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 L’Olam”!


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 Shela HaKadosh writes that an individual should be machmir on himself and read the Megillah in these cities 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 happened?


    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!  



EXPANDING THE ADAR GROUP:  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 One:  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 Two:  The Maharal explains that the reason Haman was so happy that the month in which he would kill the Jews came up as Adar was because it was the last month of the year, thus symbolizing that it was the month which would c’v be the end of Klal 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!



PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL:  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 redting 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 5777 Hashgacha Pratis Calendar--a marvelous goal and special achievement for what we hope will be a Simcha-filled month!


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