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6 Nissan

TEFILLAH L’SHA’AS MAGEIFA: By the following link, we provide a special Tefillah promulgated under the auspices of HaRav Avrohom Bing, Z’tl, Rav of Wurzburg, Germany.  It is published in Techinos Eis Ratzon collated by Rav Aharon Malovitsky, and published by Simchonim. We thank Torah Connections for providing this Tefillah to us.  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillahLShaasMageifa.pdf



REMINDER--MECHILA GEMURA! A Plea from Harav Eliezer Ginsburg Shlita and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation:  Please declare--I am mochel b’mechila gemura anyone who ever spoke lashon hora against me!”



REMINDER--NOW IS THE TIME FOR REAL RESOLVE! Let us bli neder resolve now not to bring your cell phone into Shul again. Arrange for your Shul NOW to have an attractive storage unit outside the Shul for cell phone storage (with charger capability). To purchase a storage unit, contact Rabbi Eliezer’s Ginsburg, in charge of the United States campaign, at 718-645-4698.



TESHUVAH MOMENT:  In this trying time, we must be careful not to let the long days become lost upon us. There are certain things we must be sure to do every day bli neder. We should be careful to give Tzedaka every day. When reciting Tehillim, we should recite one Kepitel at a time—there are so many Kepitelach that one may be reciting, one should make sure that the trees do not get lost in the forest. Another important daily focus should be on answering Amen to the brachos of those around you. This should serve as a chizuk in Emunah both to you and to the person reciting the bracha. Finally, one should try to recite the Ain Ohd Milevado passage from the Nefesh HaChaim (as previously provided) to provide the proper focus on the events of the day.





A.    The Navi teaches us (Micha 7:18) Hashem’s Middos—…Lo Hechezik La’ad Apo Ki Chofetz Chesed Hu—Hashem does not maintain His anger against us because He desires our Chesed. It is clear from the juxtaposition of these words by the Navi that the reason that Hashem does not maintain His anger against us is because He sees the Chesed that we perform for each other. A father who has Nachas from the way his children behave with each other does not remain angry with them. It is important for us to place special emphasis and effort on doing whatever Chesed we can under the strange circumstances that we are facing. We have to be creative. In a TorahAnytime Shiur, Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky, Shlita, pointed out that HaRav Pam who as a Kohen would not enter a hospital to visit a patient, once understood how meaningful it would be to a particular Choleh—so he came, stood outside the hospital, and waved to the Choleh from a distance. We may not be able to do the regular Chasodim that we do, but this should not stop a Yid from his innate Chesed sprouting forth.


B.    These days in the Jewish calendar are very auspicious ones. Just about now, the land of Mitzrayim was experiencing makkas choshech, which served as the final purification process for the Bnei Yisrael prior to leaving Egypt. Those sincerely wanting to leave prepared themselves mentally and monetarily to do so. Next week, the nes of the Purim reversal, when Haman’s plans were reversed against him, took place at the onset of Pesach. At this very moment, however, we are still here, without a Third Beis HaMikdash and in the midst of a pandemic. However, in light of the time period we are in, it is the perfect time for us to realize that Yeshuas Hashem K’Heref Ayin—what appears to be the only possible nature—can be reversed in very literally an instant—this instant!  In fact, HaRav Gamliel Rabinovitch, Shlita, points out that the gematria of B’Nissan Asidin L’Ga’el is the same as the year we are in—Tuf Shin Peh (780).


C.    At the recent Shiur given by HaRav Gamliel Rabinovitch, Shlita, he also emphasized the sheer importance of reciting Tehillim. In fact, he pointed out that he now spends much of his day reciting Tehillim, that this is the Minhag Yisrael, that Dovid HaMelech in his Ruach HaKodesh understood all that would happen to K’lal Yisrael, including the current plague, and that the recital of Tehillim creates Hamtakas HaDin, and breaks the kelipos poised against us. He added that it gets very dark outside before a new great light comes, and that when our Yeshuah comes it will be both a personal Yeshuah and a Yeshuah for all of K’lal Yisrael. He emphasized that we are now in a great Eiz Ratzon and that we must realize that Hashem loves us, and proclaim with sincerity--both on behalf of oneself and everyone else –Ki LiShuasecha Kivinu Kol HaYom!



GETTING PRACTICAL!  The Rambam provides eight chapters in Hilchos Chometz U’Matzah.  If one begins today and studies one Chapter a day, he will have completed all of Hilchos Chometz U’Matzah in the Rambam by Erev Pesach!  There is another way for us to get practical as well--the Rambam also provides Hilchos Korban Pesach, which is 10 Chapters.  We all still have the opportunity to bring the Korban Pesach this year, as a Tzibbur Betumah.  To study these Halachos before Pesach (a bit more than a Chapter a day) demonstrates our Emunah that the Geulah Sheleimah can come at any time--even at any moment!  We recall the words of Chazal--B’Nissan Nigalu U’V’Nissan Asidin Liga’el--as we have noted in the past, Geulah is a reality to us at all times, and most certainly in Chodesh Nissan!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos (currently, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 431, et al.) relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period! 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 leave pieces of cinnamon which were not ground in the charoses so that it resembled straw--zecher l’teven.


B. There is a dispute among authorities as to whether one can combine two different kinds of maror together to make up the Shiur.  The Aruch HaShulchan brings that some do have the Minhag to do so, whereas HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and the Minchas Yitzchak are concerned that one may take away from the taste of the other.  In all events, if one expels the Maror without swallowing it, he is not yotzei the Mitzvah.  


C.  When dipping must be done, such as the karpas in salt water, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that the dipping should be done before the bracha is recited.


D. There is a Machlokes Haposkim as to whether one should eat the karpas b’heseibah.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Z’tl, for instance, rule that it is not eaten b’heseibah.  On the other hand, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, as well as the Brisker Rav and others, require heseibah


E.  The Maharil writes that when the Mah Nishtanah is recited, it should be done in a beautiful tune, with the intent of praising Hashem.  The one asking the Mah Nishtanah need not be a child--it can be an adult as well. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach rules that the person leading the Seder is obligated to specifically explain the answer to each one of the four questions of the Mah Nishtanah--and how through the Parasha of Avadim Hayinu all of the questions are resolved.  One should not simply rely upon the “Rabban Gamliel Omer” at the end of the Haggadah. 



BASKING IN THE COMING DAYS! 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!



5 Nissan

TESHUVAH MOMENT:  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 from time-to-time in the upcoming 10-day period—and put it into action! [Excerpted from the Outstanding Torah Tavlin Haggadah]





A.    Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, reminds us of the famous ruling of the Chasam Sofer. The Chasam Sofer teaches that Teshuvah Mai’Ahava can be accomplished by anyone if he combines Teshuvah (even if not actually done Mai’Ahava) together with Tefillah and Tzedaka. Teshuvah Mai’Ahava turns aveiros done even intentionally into zechuyos. According to the Chasam Sofer, then, if we perform Teshuvah (even if not out of love)—together with sincere Tefillah and Tzedaka—our serious iniquities will be converted into Mitzvos! Let us utilize this tremendous opportunity by combining Teshuvah with solid Tefillah and Tzedaka (as you know, the Maos Chittim opportunities abound—there is a 4 for 1 above!).


B.    Chazal teach us that even Haman recognized that his 10,000 talents of silver offered to kill the Jews was pre-empted by the Mitzvah of Machatzis HaShekel that K’lal Yisrael had performed. As we take a look back, we see the great Chasdei Hashem in giving us the tremendous zechusim of the Siyumei Hashas and all of the Kavod HaTorah that went along with it just a few short months ago. Hashem showered us with zechusim to soften the blow—and we can’t even fathom to what extent.


C.    It is well known that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has responded to those questioning what it is that we can really do with the word ‘LeHispallel—To Daven!’ We must focus on the very powerful words contained in the davening itself. “Yehi Chasdecha Hashem Aleinu Ka’asher Yichalnu Lach”  “Va’ani BeChasdecha Vatachti Yagel Libi Bishuasecha Ashira LaShem Ki Gamal Alai…” Also, consider how many times in davening we ask for Hashem’s Yeshuah--right before Kriyas Shema we proclaim ”Venismicha Bishuasecha…Ki Kel Po’el Yeshuos Ata.” There are many, many pesukim and phrases in our regular davening which ask for Rachamim, Chesed and Yeshuah that we need to focus on. In Tehillim, the pasuk (50:18) states: “U’Kraeini BeYom Tzara, Achaletzecha U’Sichabdeini—and call out to Me on a day of tzara, I will save you and be honored.” Remarkably, Rashi there explains that the Pasuk is saying that Hashem states that it is His honor to save us because we call out--showing our Bitachon in Him! Oh, how important our focus on our words of Tefillah should be!




E.     During the day, we may hear different names of Cholim from different sources at different times. May we suggest that you write the names down and keep the list near where you daven, so that you can daven for these names during Shemone Esrei.


F.     Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, points out that we must focus on two different aspects in today’s quarantined daily existence. First, of course, we must look into what it is that we must reverse or repair from a personal perspective and actually take steps to put Teshuvah in this regard into motion. This means having our sechel override and overcome our dimyonos--or the silliness/frivolity of some of the aveiros we commit. There is, however, a second aspect as we live together in close confines with others. We must make sure not to speak Lashon Hara, we must make sure to judge others favorably and to look at the good in others, and not to let familiarity breed contempt. Our days should be filled with kind and pleasant words and words of encouragement.


G.    In a Shiur yesterday on TorahAnytime Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, emphasized that the essence of our Avodah at this time is the Mitzvah of VaChai Bahem and Pikuach Nefesh. He taught that somebody who violates the guidelines promulgated by the medical profession is guilty of sin which is too great to bear. He pointed out that we are so careful with chumros and dikdukim with Mitzvos such as Matzah and Lulav and Esrog, all the more so must we be careful with Pikuach Nefesh, which affects us, our neighbors, our friends and our family on a minute-to-minute basis. He emphasized that one should not be concerned with the bittul Torah that following the medical guidelines appears to cause, for after all, would one not spend hours to go bake Matzos or in buying Lulavim and Esrogim for his family! Now, Hashem wants us to be busy with the greatest of all Mitzvos of VaChaim Bahem. It is not a common opportunity. In fact, the building of the Bais HaMikdash does not push Shabbos aside, but saving a life is doche Shabbos. We see from here, Rabbi Oelbaum teaches, that the Kedusha of a Yid is greater even than the Kedusha of the Bais HaMikdash. Rabbi Oelbaum concluded by pointing out that if small particles of virus could result in such havoc and destruction worldwide, imagine how particles of ruchniyus—pure acts of Ma’asim Tovim generated by our Neshama—could truly have an affect on the entire world in an outstanding and unfathomable way!  




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 5780 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 is available by the following link:  http://tinyurl.com/ncm2ou3  and the English version is available here:  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq



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!




A NISSAN HALLMARK!  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!



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!



2 Nissan

SHA’AR HABITACHON! By the following link, we provide a magnificent opportunity to review the Chovos Helevavos Sha’ar Habitachon in 29 short segments over the month of Nissan http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/Sha’arHaBitachonScheduleNissan.pdf





There is a 4-for-1 match in Kiryat Sefer.


In general, there is tremendous need this Yom Tov.  Added to all the need that we have each year, there is now the working poor.  People who were just making it, feeding their children and clothing them.  So many of these were let go because of Coronavirus.  They are unused to asking for help and don’t even know how.  In addition there are outlying communities that never get help and need it desperately.


To donate, visit yadeliezer.org or mail a check to 410 Glenn Road, Jackson, NJ 08527. Please write Kiryat Sefer Match with any donation for Kiryat Sefer.



TESHUVA MOMENT: We continue to experience HaShem’s whole and utter control over the world and of each aspect of each individual’s life, as He demonstrates to us how the virus effects one person this way, a sibling or spouse in the same home another, and a next door neighbor yet another, multiplied a million times over.  In actuality, the enormity of the power is unfathomable. Perhaps it is a time for us to revisit out Kavana in the Bracha of “Atta Kodosh V’Shimcha Kadosh... HaKel HaKadosh.” HaShem, you are so elevated and exalted, so above and beyond, may we always be zoche to declare your Kedusha!



NOT THE NEW REALITY: It is now well over a week for most of us in a new reality. Man adapts to new surroundings, new conditions, new circumstances. Heaven Forbid for us to getting accustomed to having no Shul or Minyan to go to, no Shiur or chavrusa to physically meet with, no direct chesed to friends, acquaintances or co-workers. We are in a pained state, like a mentally healthy person placed in an insane asylum. But what are we to do, how do we get out?  We must show that we do not belong, we must act normally. We must sincerely express our longing and desire for deveikus with Him. We must tell HaShem that we realize something went wrong, but that we now really want to give Him Nachas Ruach. We don’t have neviim to tell us what we did wrong, and HaShem knows that very well, but we need to return to a world in which we can serve Him better.  We need to declare it, and to mean it. Let us put in the Yiras Shomayim that we can, and look to HaShem to bring us back home, and then forever Home!



WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES: The following is excerpted from Zemiros Shabbos, by HaRav Tzvi Yavrov, Shlita, which provides insights of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, into various aspects of Shabbos:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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.



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!



MAZEL TOV!  As we have noted in the past, 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 Yisraelwould 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, c’v, 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 look to make life simpler and say, “Forget this, I would rather carry water”??  Or does a Colonel say, “I’m giving this up for the easier life of 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 Volozhiner 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 begin 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 marror, where world class athletes would envy women’s adrenaline 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 that is in it!



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


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


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


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


Hakhel Note: If there is not something specific that you are doing in order to unite K’lal Yisrael--then, let your Tefillos resound on our behalf!  





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!



1 Nissan

A PLEA FROM HARAV ELIEZER GINSBURG SHLITA:  Please declare--“I am mochel b’mechila gemura anyone who ever spoke lashon hora against me!”





There is a 4-for-1 match in Kiryat Sefer.


In general, there is tremendous need this Yom Tov.  Added to all the need that we have each year, there is now the working poor.  People who were just making it, feeding their children and clothing them.  So many of these were let go because of Coronavirus.  They are unused to asking for help and don’t even know how.  In addition there are outlying communities that never get help and need it desperately.


To donate, visit yadeliezer.org or mail a check to 410 Glenn Road, Jackson, NJ 08527. Please write Kiryat Sefer Match with any donation for Kiryat Sefer.



TESHUVA MOMENT!  HaRav Reuvain Feinstein, Shlita explains that if HaKadosh Baruch Hu closed our Shuls, it is obvious that He does not like the way we are davening.  What could we be doing wrong? He suggests that perhaps we are not connecting to HaShem as the True Source of Everything when we daven.  We should learn to act as Gidon, who with complete Emunah told the malach who appeared to him, “If our forefathers were redeemed from Mitzrayim in their own merit, then please redeem us now in their merit, and if they were redeemed even though they were reshaim, then just as you did wonders for them without merit, do so for us as well!” (see Rashi Shoftim 6:13).  This is straightforward Emunah-filled Tefillah.  Rav Feinstein said that he has a friend who is a billionaire.  He knows that if his friend told someone that he agreed to see him tomorrow morning for five to seven minutes so that he can tell the wealthy gentleman what he needed, that person would treasure the opportunity and prepare very well to do his best.  We have three appointments every day with oh so much more than a billionaire. This is how we have to approach Tefillah—A REMARKABLE OPPORTUNITY.  AND EACH OPPORTUNITY IS A STAND-ALONE, NEW ONE!! We now enter the first day of the first month, may it be the first day of the first month of A NEW APPROACH TO TEFILLAH for the rest of our lives!



IMPORTANT:  We must only look at the good in others, even if they are otherwise undeserving. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that HaShem then lovingly and Midah K’Neged Midah, only looks at the good in us, even if we are otherwise undeserving. WE CAN SURVIVE AND THRIVE! Spend your day busy with the good of others. It will make HaShem happy with the way he spends His day with you!



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

TEHILLIM K’NEGED MAGEIFA: A Posek has importantly notified us that the Kabbala in Eretz Yisroel for Kepitelech Tehillim to be recited at a time such as this is 1, 121, 103, 67, 23, 148, 6, 105, 33, 17 and 16.



TESHUVAH MOMENT - SUGGESTIONS:  An awesome aspect of a pandemic that has effected the lives of billions is how an invisible creature deals this blow on this person and that pinch on that person, this choke here, and that headache there, with the kind, location and extent of treatments not necessarily being the same for those even with similar symptoms. It is a reminder to us of the words of Chazal as to each Mitzri experiencing the details of each Makka differently, depending upon his particular level of culpability in the midda k’neged midda of that Makka. We know that Hashem’s judgments are awesome, and that he loves us infinitely more than we love ourselves (this is not lip service, as we are His most precious creations). Each of us should be using his unique experience to acknowledge that he understands that HaShem is talking to him personally, and to further his relationship with his Creator.


As the days wear down on us, may we Bli neder write or commit NOW to those things we will be careful of in the future, those things that can never just be the same. It is said in the name of HaRav Yoshe Ber Soloveichik, Z’tl (Boston, RIETS) that the biggest tragedy imaginable is wasted Yissurim. LET US TAKE ACTION. SOME SUGGESTIONS TO BLI NEDER COMMIT TO NOW—YES I UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE:


1. Not bringing cell phone into Shul again. Arranging for your Shul NOW to have an attractive storage unit outside the Shul for cell phone storage (with charger capability). To purchase a storage unit, contact Rabbi Eliezer’s Ginsburg, in charge of the United States campaign, at 718-645-4698.


2. Not talking in Shul during davening and Keriyas HaTorah.  If you were already careful in this, not talking sicha beteila in Shul. THE SHECHINA IS HERE. Having your Shul proudly display the signed list of those who were mekabel this upon themselves—Those Who Honor Hashem.


3.  Joining together in Tefilla for others daily. Dividing up Sefer Tehillim to be said by one’s Shul daily. If a family can do this daily or weekly as well, it would be beautiful.


4.  Not Davening the same. If your weekday Shemone Esrei takes less than seven minutes or so, it means you are saying words fast, and that you are perhaps carrying over the mindset from before the pandemic.  If your Shul is making Chazaras Hashatz begin before 7 minutes, have them change. If Keriyas Shema takes less than three minutes, it means that speed is more important to you than slowly enunciating each word. Make a personal or family takana in Brachos B’Kavana. If you can’t think of something, discuss among the family or ask your Rav,


5. Put a few daily alarms on your phone. With one, thank HaShem for two or three things that happened that day. With another, daven to HaShem for others. With a third, stop and say Shivisi HaShem Lenegdi Samid.


6. Having been shown how we are to learn in the privacy of our own home, we should Bli Neder take it upon ourselves to learn at least once a day as a rendezvous with HaShem. By this, we mean that at least once a day before learning we should privately state that we would like to now learn lishma to give Nachas Ruach to HaShem, and daven to Hashem to reach one’s chelek in Torah. HaShem has clearly shown us he is focusing on each of us separately, we should make sure we keep up our relationship beautifully and positively.


These are some immediate suggestions. Your thoughts are very much encouraged and appreciated.



SHA’AR HABECHINA! By the following link, we provide a magnificent opportunity to review the Chovos Helevavos Sha’ar Hebechina in 29 short segments over the month of Nissan. This is an outstanding opportunity! Spread the word!





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



SALE OF CHOMETZ:  This year, when the normal method of selling one’s Chometz in person to a Rav is compromised, the Bais HaVaad Halacha Center of Lakewood is enabling one to sell one’s Chometz from the comfort and safety of one’s own home, on line by the following link:




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.



28 Adar

YOM KIPPUR KATAN TOMORROW:  Maran HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has issued a letter asking us to strengthen our Limud HaTorah.  Additionally, he states that it is appropriate in such a situation (for those healthy enough and not at risk) to fast on Erev Rosh Chodesh Nissan (tomorrow, Wednesday) half the day and daven Yom Kippor Katan.  The main facet of the Taanis is the Tefillah and Hashem should hear our cries, say it is enough and send us a complete recovery speedily to all the sick one in Yisroel. One who wishes to fast the entire day or half the day should remember to accept upon themselves on Tuesday at Mincha and can then say the Aneinu prayer in Mincha on Wednesday.  If not done then, the fast can still be accepted until the nighttime on Tuesday and there are those that even allow one to accept it at night.  One who is fasting without having had accepted upon himself the previous day cannot say Aneinu, but there is still benefit to fasting.  It is possible to say at the time of acceptance of the fast, bli neder, or “until such and such time.”  However, one who is not fasting at the time of Mincha, should not say Aneinu.  For the original letter, please see this link




TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Ahavas Chesed, Chapter 16) teaches that when one provides money for charity or a gemach as part of a Tzibbur’s pool, then it is pashut that one is rewarded as if he had put in the entire pool of money, for without his $10, the $1,000 would not exist. Likewise, the Sedei Chemed writes that if a person’s Talmud Torah is part of a Tzibbur’s goal (such as a Chevra Shas or Chevra Mishnayos), then he is credited with the learning of the entire Tzibbur, because without him there would be no Siyum Hashas, etc. One must learn from this how important it is to join together with the community in its efforts in any public setting. We, men and women, are all part of K’lal Yisrael, and should demonstrate it through our joining together in Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chassodim. Even if it requires special effort, one must think twice before not signing on to a communal effort--and to the contrary, glory in each and every effort of being part of the Tzibbur!



QUESTION OF THE DAY: Which Mishna in Mesechta Pesachim deals with the very issue which we have this year--the Leil HaSeder falling out on Leil Shabbos? Hint: Let us hope that we will witness its implementation for this Pesach!



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



SHAAR HABECHINA! By the following link, we provide a magnificent opportunity to review the Chovos Helevavos Shaar Hebechina in 29 short segments over the month of Nissan. This is an outstanding opportunity! Spread the word!





WOMEN PREPARE!   This Thursday, 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!



THE BROCHOS TO GREET MOSHIACH:  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, writes that when the Moshiach comes we will recite four brachos: (i) Baruch Chacham Harazim (over the 600,000 that will be present); (ii) Shechalak Meichachmaso LiReiav (over the Gadol HaDor); (iii) Shechalak MiKevodo LiReiav (over the king); and (iv) Shehechiyanu (over reaching this time). HaRav Kanievsky adds that at the time of Techiyas HaMeisim we will also make the bracha of Mechayei HaMeisim. HaRav Kanievsky explains that the reason we do not expressly daven for Techiyas HaMeisim in our regular Tefillos for the Geulah is because it will take place forty years after the Geulah--and we pray for the Geulah to first begin as soon as possible!




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 recites “Hineni Muchan U’Mezuman LeKayeim…”, but does 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.



27 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT: Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, Z’tl. 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 more of his life-changing guidance below.



WHAT WE NEED TO DO NOW:  Hakhel was sent a recording of HaRav Aharon Feldman, Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, speaking last Erev Shabbos from Jerusalem, about some concrete actions we all can take in light of the current crisis.  The recording is available at the following link:




STRENGTHENING OUR TEFILLAH:  The following are two audio Shiurim given last week by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, author of the Praying with Fire Artscroll series of books on Tefillah:





FROM A READER:  We received the following from a reader, written by the Rosh Kollel of the Philadelphia Community Kollel, Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita:


Living Yeshaya’s Prophecy


Every Shabbos after reading the Haftarah we praise Hashem and exclaim how "He chose good and proper neviim, prophets, and desires their words which are spoken in truth."

Yeshaya the prophet, more than any other prophet, merited to bring messages of consolation and assurance about the future. Why? Because he accepted upon himself the yoke of Divine service with great joy more than anyone else [Tanna d'vei Eliyahu Rabbah].


In Chapter 26, Yeshaya's prophetic eye sees the ultimate Redemption, combined with the travails of Gog and Magog, and he writes a song that will be sung at that time. Those will be times of turmoil and uncertainty, but eventually the wicked will perish and the righteous will remain standing. The chapter ends with some advice from Yeshaya on how to weather the storm.


"Go, my people, enter into your chambers and close your doors behind you. Hide for a brief moment until the anger passes. For behold, Hashem is going forth from His place to visit punishment for the sins of the inhabitants of the earth upon him; the earth will uncover its blood, and it will no longer cover its slain ones."


Yeshaya is telling us there will be a time when we need to isolate ourselves in our homes. It will be relatively brief and the storm will pass. Radak explains the seclusion in our chamber as a metaphor for seeking refuge in good deeds and complete teshuvah. Then the danger will pass quickly and the righteous ones will be saved. Rashi in his comments quotes a Medrash that advises that in this time of danger, go into the Beis Medrash and study Torah, go into the Shuls to daven. If this is not possible, then engage in introspection in your deeds, deep within the chambers of your heart. Rav Schwab, zt"l suggests that at this time we should think about the deeds we do in private, behind closed doors.


The Gemara (Bava Kamma 60b) learns from the above posuk that when there is a plague in the city, go into your house.


This protocol is most reminiscent of the preparation for the redemption from Egypt, where Moshe commanded B'nei Yisroel not to leave their homes the entire night of makos bechoros [see Shemos 12:22] when the firstborn Egyptian were being slain by the plague. The prophet Michah (7:15) already taught us that the miracles of the ultimate Redemption will parallel those of Yetzias Mitzrayim so we need to glean lessons from that time.


We are now at a time where we are hiding out, "riding out the storm." When we cannot run to a Beis Medrash or Shul, as Rashi advises, when the hiding must be in our homes, we have our inner chamber to inspect and introspect. We are alone with our families and with Hashem. We have a chance to connect privately to Him.


These days we don't have to rush through Birchas Hamazon or our berachos. Where are running to? We are stuck at home! Even those of us who are working remotely save the commute time, so we have ample time to focus on our davening. This can be a time of unimaginable growth in many areas. Let's remember Yeshaya's prediction that this period will not last long, and then will come the day when all will recognize Hashem echad, u'shmo echad



AN OFFER FROM ERETZ YISROEL:  At these challenging times, when many Shuls in chutz la'aretz are closed, and people are unable to say Kaddish on a Yahrzeit or during the year, I am offering to say Kaddish for people who are unable to do so, for as long as I can, based on circumstances here in Eretz Yisroel, when we can still make minyanim.


This is a free service, l'illu neshama.


Obviously, if there is a high demand, I will not be able to say Kaddish for each individual, but if I have a list of names, it will make it more meaningful.

If you think this is an appropriate Chesed at these times, please forward this information to your list, with the following email address: nominyankaddishkorona@gmail.com


Obviously, this is bli neder, and again, completely free--for as long as possible over here. This is not a chesed for someone who would anyway not be going to shul; others do that chesed. Rather for those who cannot go due to the virus.


Y Jaeger









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. 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. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 443, Dirshu Note 8)


B.  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.


C.  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! 


D. 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.).



ON THE EIGHTH 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 provide the following excerpts from the The Torah Home, by Rabbi Shlomo Furst, Shlita, based on the Shiurim of Rav Scheinberg, Z’tl:


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!



24 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT:  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.





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.


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 real and difficult effort, but we will be taking an important step towards that “just one Shabbos” we so urgently and desperately require.


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.


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



B. The following Halachos are excerpted from  the pamphlet Piskei Shulchan HaLevi, the pesokim of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, as compiled by R’ Shmuel Tzvi Cohen with an approbation from HaRav Belsky. As with all pesokim, one should ask his Rav or Posek for a final ruling:


1. If one has no cup other than a disposable one, he may use it for Kiddush or bentsching--but lechatchila one should use a nice cup (see Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:39).


2. If one usually recites Kiddush over a regular size becher on Shabbos morning, and finds himself in a place in which he is given a schnapps glazel--he should not recite Kiddush over it. Even if the Ba’al HaBayis does so, one should nevertheless insist that it is his minhag to utilize a regular size becher.


3. If one is being yotzei kiddush through another--then he should follow the one who is reciting Kiddush as to whether to stand or sit. If one does not do so, then he does not appear to be kove’ah seudah with him.


4. If one skipped a Parasha or more in the weekly recitation of Shenayim Mikra V’echad Targum--then one should first read the Parasha of this week, and then go back and make up the Parashios of the prior weeks.


5. Bochurim who enjoy ‘taking two steps at a time’ may do so on Shabbos--and will not violate the issur of taking pesyiah gasa on Shabbos, since this is their enjoyment.


6. One may fold a paper napkin on its crease, and this is not considered to be fixing it--as it will be disposed of after its one-time use.


7. It is permissible to make a necktie on Shabbos only if it is tied in a manner in which one will be able to untie it by pulling it once.


8. Orange peels are not muktzah, for there are food items that are prepared from them.


9. One should not pour a drink over ice cubes on Shabbos. Rather, one should pour the drink in first and then put the ice into it. Then, if one wants to fill up his cup again, he should make sure that part of the original drink is left in the cup.


10. One should not clap a musical or rhythmic beat on the table.


11. When singing zemiros, one should say Hashem’s name, rather than saying the word ‘Hashem’--as reciting Hashem’s name in zemiros is not considered to be levatalah.


12. Even if one has a minhag to wait less than 50 minutes after shekiyah in order to do melacha on Motza’ei Shabbos--he should change his minhag and wait 50 minutes, and preferably 72.



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





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 ShlomoWolbe, 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 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 it 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!


E. How many times in this week’s Parasha is the phrase “Ka’asher Tzivah Hashem Es Moshe--[and the work was performed] as Hashem had commanded Moshe” repeated--and why.  We are happy to report that a reader had once calculated the answer on her own--and then found the confirmation and an incredible reason for this number in the Ba’al Haturim on the Parasha (Shemos 40:21)--all as brought in the wonderful publication by Rabbi Ozer Alport, Shlita--Parsha Potpourri.  As Rabbi Alport writes, “As there are no coincidences in the Torah, the Baal HaTurim explains that this number alludes to the 18 blessings recited thrice daily in the prayers known as Shemoneh Esrei.”  Rabbi Alport shows how our ‘standard daily prayers’ are really not so standard at all, and concludes, “Just as Betzalel followed Hashem’s precise guidelines for the creation of the Mishkan and still found room for creative expression by doing so with his own unique intentions and insights, so too our Sages established the standard wording of the prayers with Divine Inspiration, articulating within them every feeling we may wish to express. Many times, in the midst of a difficult situation, we begin the standard prayers with a heavy heart, only to find a new interpretation of the words which we have recited thousands of times jump out at us. This newfound understanding, which has been there all along waiting for us to discover it in our time of need, is perfectly fit to the sentiments we wish to convey, if we will only open our eyes to see it and use our Sages’ foresight to express ourselves.”  To subscribe to Parsha Potpourri weekly, email oalport@optonline.net.


F.  As we conclude Sefer Shemos tomorrow, we recognize that there is a new beginning next week with Sefer Vayikra.  It is a momentous ending of the Sefer HaGeulah, and the inauguration of the aftermath of Geulah--the Toras Kohanim--service of Hashem on a higher plane in a Mikdash.  Non-coincidentally, the Daf Yomi will be concluding Mesechta Gittin on Shabbos and commencing Mesechta Kiddushin on Sunday. We have also just concluded Adar Rishon and today began Adar Sheni.  Most definitely, this should be a Shabbos of real reflection--what am I concluding--and what will I be beginning?  How will I utilize the opportunity?  Will I realize that when Purim arrives the year will be half over--and that it would truly be an accomplishment to Improve in Avodas Hashem before the second half of the Year--with a concrete improvement that I have been meaning to make --especially in Torah or Tefillah?  As we see the great work product of the Mishkan come to final fruition in Parashas Pekudei--let us practically and meaningfully take the lesson of its building to a powerful next step--real and actual growth in Avodas 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):



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


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.]



SPENDING PERSONAL MOMENTS TO DAVEN FOR THE GEULAH SHELEIMAH:  Tomorrow, eight years ago, 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!



23 Adar

RECEIVED LAST NIGHT:  With great pain & sadness, upon the release of an Emergency Community Announcement from Hatzolah of NY and after consulting with Da’as Torah, we have come to the difficult decision to suspend minyanim at the Shul for the time being.


Please read carefully the Emergency Community Announcement from Hatzolah, which strongly recommends that everyone stay home and limit outings to essential errands only. Hatzolah is referring to this & other recommendations as pikuach nefashos. Please pass on their community announcement to as many people as possible.


Additionally, please be aware of the following halachic considerations which arise in this unique situation (reviewed by Maran Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita).


1. It is preferable daven shacharis k’vasikin (some poskim compare the zechus of tefilla k’vasikin to tefila b’tzibbur).


2. As there are no time constraints and no need to keep up with a minyan, you should say Korbanos including pittum haketores - especially during this precarious time.


3. It is preferable to daven shmone esrei by a wall. In general, one should daven in a quiet, designated place, with shoes & proper attire, as is appropriate for kavod hatefilla. Remember - WE NEED THE TEFILLOS NOW MORE THAN EVER.


4. Tachnun is to be said seated, but without nefilas apayim.


5. Since you will be davening b’yechidus, once Z’man Mincha K’tana has arrived, eating more than 2 k’zaysim of mezonos, engaging in work or napping, is forbidden, until you daven Mincha. If you appoint a shomer to remind you, then you may eat & work.


6. Upon Tzeis Hakochavim, eating more than 2 k’zaysim of mezonos, engaging in work or napping, is forbidden, until you say k’rias shma & daven Maariv. If you appoint a shomer to remind you, then you may eat & work.


7. On Shabbos you should read the Parsha & Haftorah from a Chumash. This can count as one of the two times of Mikra for the obligation of Shnayim Mikra V’echad Targum.


8. On Shabbos you should only say the Yekum Purkan which pertains to the individual, not the one pertaining to the tzibbur.


9. On Shabbos Mincha you should say “v’ani tefilasi etc.” even though there is no k’rias hatorah.


Wishing everyone all the best, & with tefillos for yeshuas Hashem b’karov,


                      Daniel Osher Kleinman



22 Adar

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: As readers may have noted, we have not placed a primary focus on the Coronavirus pandemic issue as the issue is being covered in so many ways by so many responsible authorities and organizations. At this time, in light of the serious situation internationally, we wish to provide the following review items:


1.      Third Reminder: The Ain Ohd Milevado text from the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim should be recited with feeling daily during these times. http://tinyurl.com/5a6qmy


2.      The Zechus HaRabim of Bitachon. Rabbu Dovid Steinhauer, Shlita conveyed the following in a recent Shiur:


HaRav Elchanon Wasserman, Z’tl was in America in 1938 when it was clear what is going on in Germany with the Jews. They asked him if Mashiach was coming. He responded  that the Gemara in Sota explains that there will be a financial collapse with no food and we will have to look to Hashem, there will be a political collapse and we will have to turn to Hashem, and family life will collapse and we will have to turn to Hashem yet again, and that will be the portal to Moshiach. Why are these situations all split up? It should just say they will all happen and then say they are all happening so we will look to Hashem. HaRav Elchanon answered that they all do not have to happen. If we get the point and we rely on Hashem, we do not need all these things to happen. Every event can bring Mashiach, it depends how we respond.


 Mashiach is not a Din Yachid, it’s something that will happen for everyone; therefore we need the Bitachon of the Rabim for Mashiach to come.


When things are going well as a whole and people have money, it is hard to have bitachon or to have a reason to work on it. It is hard to realize that everything that is happening is from Hashem and we are just sticks in His hand. When the world in this peaceful state it is hard for us to work on ourselves and bring Mashiach. The bitachon is just not there. 


When events like these happen it is a chance, an opportunity, for us to realize that we only have Hashem to rely on and that He can make anything happen. It gives us a reason to work on our Bitachon and that is why these events give us a bigger chance to bring the geulah. However, it won’t happen by itself. We need Klal Yisroel as a whole to have Bitachon. 


3.         Tefillah on Shemiras HaLashon: As Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, pointed out, Shemiras HaLashon is a key factor in our international success at this time. Even if one does not do so daily, may we sincerely recommend that one recite the Tefillah composed by the Chofetz Chaim himself to be saved from Lashon Hara.  Recite the complete Tefillah of the Chofetz Chaim on Shemiras HaLashon daily available at http://tinyurl.com/78fcytc or the shortened version at  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillahL’ShemirasHaLashon.pdf


4.      Tzedaka. Shlomo HaMelech says twice in Tehillim that Tzedaka Tatzil MiMaves—which Chazal explain to mean not only from death, but also from an unusual form of death. As Tzedaka saves from death, it certainly saves from something less serious than death, such as illness. We accordingly provide the following information from Yad Eliezer, just received:


Every year Yad Eliezer transforms Pesach into a holiday that really feels like a festival of freedom for thousands of needy families, including those of impoverished IDF soldiers.

We’re able to do this because of your generous help plus the invaluable yearly matching partnership we have with a foundation in the U.S.

But this year is different.  The unprecedented health crisis and its restrictions are making things even harder.  They are creating incredible challenges for everyone, but especially for struggling soldiers who cannot leave base and are thus unable to be with the families and prepare for the holidays.

With this unique need, our goal this Pesach is critical. But we have a limited time in which to reach it.

If we can raise $250,000 by March 25, it will be matched to an astounding $500,000 for 3,550 struggling soldiers and their families.


Who are they?

They’re soldiers from poor backgrounds. They’re married soldiers who can’t make ends meet for their families. They’re also lone soldiers who have no one in the country for support.

Our combined efforts bring unimaginable relief in the form of supermarket gift cards that are distributed to these soldiers, throughout Israel.

There’s no way to describe the happiness they and their loved ones experience as shopping carts are filled with the matza, wine and other essentials needed for their holiday.


Now more than ever, we hope you will join us once again in this Pesach transformation!



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)



21 Adar

FINAL CALL!  If one would start today to learn three Mishnayos of Mesechta Pesachim per day, he would make a Siyum on the entire Mishnayos Pesachim by the last day of Pesach.  As we all know, one must ready himself not only physically for Pesach, but also spiritually as well! Stop--don’t miss the opportunity!  You will look back in a month and be rightfully proud of your accomplishment!



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



REMINDER: On this day, the 21st of Adar, Daryavesh, the son of Esther HaMalka and Achashveirosh, allowed the Jews to continue the building of the Second Bais HaMikdash--which had been halted in Achashveirosh’s time!  May it be a sign of things to come for the Third Bais Hamikdash and our final Geulah!



THE YAHRZEIT OF THE NOAM ELIMELECH M’LIZHINSK: Today, Chaf Aleph Adar, is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Elimelech (B’R’ Elazar Lipman)--the famed Noam Elimelech M’Lizhinsk. As many were unable to daven at his Kever today--we still have the opportunity to  learn from his great teachings. The Tzetel Koton would be a wonderful place to start!



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!



MIZMOR L’SODAH: The 100th Chapter of Tehillim is recited every morning in Shacharis--so beautifully and concisely encapsulating our appreciation of Hashem’s bounty to us that we encourage the whole world  to call out in praise. Many stand when reciting the Kepitel, and the Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chaim 51:9) writes that one should recite it “B’neginah”, for this expression of song will never become batel. A reader advised that he knows many people who recite a kepitel of Tehillim (such as 121 or 130) before leaving their parking spot as a prayer for a safe and uneventful ride. He of course does the same--but also recites Mizmor L’Sodah--upon his safe arrival!



KARECHA BADERECH: As the Torah teaches us, Amaleik’s attack was Karecha BaDerech--they cooled us off in the road. A Mechaneich pointed out to his students that two terms often used in today’s times are chill and random--both of which represent the terminology of Amaleik--Karecha (chill) and Baderech (random). Let us avoid Amaleik--its terminology--and everything that it represents!



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


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


This Pesach, be generous--Geulah-style generous!



POST-PURIM POINTS: 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! 




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).



20 Adar




TESHUVAH MOMENT—IN THESE TRYING TIMES--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!



TODAY IS THE 25th YAHRZEIT OF RAV SHLOMO ZALMEN AUERBACH, Z’TL: There is a very well-known story that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l, once repeated the paragraph of “Nodeh Lecha”(we thank You, Hashem), in which we list many important things that we thank Hashem for.  When he was asked why he repeated it, he responded that he experienced a momentary lapse of Kavanna, and that saying “Thank you” without meaning it is not true thanks.  In a related way, as we have noted in the past, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches in the name of HaRav Pam, Zt’l, that one may put out a finger and count each one of the things that you are thanking Hashem for every time you recite “Nodeh Lecha”.  Example: “Al Yisrael Amecha-one, V’Al Yerushalayim Irecha-two etc.”  If you try this, you will see that it is a great method of focusing your appreciation, and rejoicing in what Hashem has given you.


Additional Note: HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, teaches that when someone visits the Kever of a Tzadik, he connects with the Nefesh of the Tzadik, but when he studies from the Seforim of the Tzadik, he connects with the Ruach of the Tzadik. Today, for example, one can study the rulings of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen in the Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa, Halichos Shlomo, Minchas Shlomo, or learn some of the many lessons that he taught from Rabbi Hanoch Teller’s work, And From Jerusalem, His Word: Stories and Insights of Rabbi Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach.



TRUE TEFILLAH!: The following is excerpted from Living On: Messages, Memories and Miracles from the Har Nof Massacre, compiled by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, Shlita:


“The ability to tear open the Heavens in one’s prayer is a gift, and in most situations a person doesn’t reach this elevated level of Tefillah. However, each of us must know that we have this power in our possession, and we must do everything we can to tap into it. I turn to K’lal Yisrael to feel the pain of the Rothman family and all the others injured in the Har Nof Massacre, and in their zechus let us try to achieve this level of Tefillah.


“The Sefer Sha’arei Orah explains why Tefillas Chana produced miraculous results. Sifrei Kabbalah reveal that Keser is the highest of the Sefiros, and it embodies Ratzon, the purest form of will. Chana was able to focus her will and touch upon Keser, and as a result her Tefillos tore upon the Heavens and were answered immediately.


“True Tefillah is when one recognizes that aside from the Borei Olam there is absolutely no possibility for salvation. When a person arrives at this crystal-clear recognition, he has reached a level of pure emunah, and he can cry out to the Borei Olam with complete faith that there is absolutely no other power in the world.


“Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, once told me that to rip open the Heavens a person does not have to scream at the top of his lungs. He can be standing silently by his shtender, and the piercing cries of his heart permeate Above. The main thing is that he should feel an urgent need for salvation and know that the Borei Olam is the only address to turn to….


“The halacha dictates that when we leave our homes we should touch the Mezuzah. As we are leaving we should say, “Hashem Yishmor Tzeisi U’Vo’i Mei’atah V’Ahd Olam--may Hashem guard my leaving and my coming now and forever.” Our greatest means of protection is prayer. That is what Hashem wants from us!”





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


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


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


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


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


Esther, a 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!



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).



17 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT!   An important aspect of Kriya—bowing down in Shemone Esrei is the manner in which one returns to his/her upright position. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 113:6) rules that this should be accomplished by one’s lifting his head up prior to one lifting his body, so that one returns to an upright position a little slower, and the bowing does not appear to be a burden upon the person. If one has not been trained in this when younger, it may take a little while to become accustomed to—but it is certainly an important part of one’s expressing his humility and thanks to Hashem in his Tefillah. Indeed, it is so important, that it is an express Halacha in Shulchan Aruch!



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 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).



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!





1. The Targum to the Megillah (8:16) relates that one of the edicts of Haman against the Jews was to not observe Shabbos. As we have noted in the past, Haman instigated Achashveirosh against the Jews by saying they are constantly claiming “Shabbos HaYom, Pesach HaYom” (Megillah 13B). We now have the opportunity to rejoice in observing this Shabbos without restriction and without restraint. One should be especially cognizant of this fact as he enjoys his Shabbos meal, and actively and outwardly practices his Shabbos observance.


2. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 261:2) poskens that on Friday afternoon, one is obligated to fulfill Tosefes Shabbos by adding on from Chol onto Shabbos. The Mishna Berurah (seif katan 19) explains that this is a Torah requirement-a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa. Women fulfill this mitzva dutifully by lighting the Shabbos candles 18 minutes before sunset (shkiah) and accepting Shabbos upon themselves at that time. Men, however, who do not typically accept Shabbos upon themselves at candle lighting (even when they light Shabbos candles) have to consciously be mekabel Shabbos upon themselves before shkiah. Therefore, one should l’chatchila prior to shkiah verbally express that he is “accepting upon himself Shabbos for the purpose of Tosefes Shabbos” (Mishne Berurah 261:21)1. This should be done at least two to three minutes prior to shkiah (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 1:96) and as early as 15 minutes prior to shkiah if possible (Mishne Berurah, seif katan 22). Merely having in mind to be mekabel Tosefes Shabbos is only acceptable according to some Poskim (Bach and Gra quoted by Mishne Brurah 553:2) and should be avoided if possible. As the Shulchan Aruch (263:15) and the Mishne Berurah (seif katan 43) pasken that once one has been mekabel on himself Tosefes Shabbos, he can no longer daven a weekday Mincha, all of the above assumes that the person has already davened Mincha and is now in a position to accept Tosefes Shabbos on himself. Many minyonim, however, are in the middle of Mincha when shkiah arrives. In this event, one should then fulfill Tosefes Shabbos by verbally accepting Tosefes Shabbos on himself as soon as he has finished his Shemone Esrei (assuming it is still prior to shkiah)2. Notwithstanding his acceptance at that point of Shabbos, the Shmiras Shabbos K’hilchosa (46:5) poskens that he may still answer to the Kedushah of Mincha. (This advice will not help the Shaliach Tzibbur who has to repeat the weekday Shemone Esrei). The Shmiras Shabbos K’hilchosa further poskens that if a person will not be in a position to finish his Shemone Esrei prior to shkiah if he davens with the congregation, he should daven at home alone, be mekabel on himself Tosefes Shabbos and then go to shul. If a person finds himself in the situation that he no longer has sufficient time to both daven Mincha and accept on himself Tosefes Shabbos prior to shkiah, as there is a machlokes haposkeim as to what one should do, one should consult his Rav.


3. Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Shlita, writes (in Shamor L’Kad’sho: Practical Halachos of Shabbos, p.17), “If siddurim were piled up after a minyan, you may not sort out the Ashkenaz and Sefard siddurim in order to put them away [however, if you read a little from each siddur, you may put each one into its proper place after reading from it] (Hilchos Shabbos by Rav Shimon Eider, Z’tl, p.184 and Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:74 Borer #12).” Of course, Borer on seforim applies to other mixtures of seforim as well. There may be cases where you may be lenient in this area based on facts and circumstances. Please consult your Rav with specific shailos.


4. Although it may not be well known, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 101, seif katan 19) rules that one davening privately on Shabbos (i.e., in one’s home) should not recite either of the two paragraphs beginning Yakum Purkan, as they are in Aramaic, and should only be recited B’Tzibbur.



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!



YAHRZEIT OF THE YESOD V’SHORESH HA’AVODAH: Tomorrow is the Yahrzeit of the Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah (R’ Alexander Siskind B’ R’ Moshe, Z’tl). We present recent 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): “Ahalela 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-- Ahalela 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!



16 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT:   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!



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!



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).



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!I



TESHUVAH MOMENT:  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!



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)



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



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



THE “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!!



13 Adar

FOR TODAY—IMPORTANT AND TIMELY LINKS: We reprint from Halachos of Brochos For All Seasons, with permission from Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, the reason why we fast today (first two pages) and the entire chapter from the same Sefer on Purim http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/HilchosPurimRabbiBodner.pdf



TESHUVAH MOMENT: Tomorrow, Purim, will be 30 days to Pesach. Today, as a day of Ta’anis is a day of Teshuvah and reflection. We should contemplate what kabbalah, bli neder, we will take upon ourselves for the 30 day period of Purim to Pesach. Will it be not to get angry in stress-filled or difficult times, to write down if and when one does get angry during this period--and how to make sure that it will not happen again? Hakhel Note: This is of course just one example, provided to help stimulate one’s reflection mode.



QUESTION OF THE DAY FROM A READER: What word is the name of an object in the Torah, the name of a place in the Navi, and the name of a person in the Megillah.





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!”



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: 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).



A RECENT ADVERTISEMENT: The following notice appeared in an advertisement regarding Purim: “On Purim, when Tzedakah collectors enter your home, from yeshiva bochurim to elderly Rabbanim, women should be extra vigilant in maintaining a modest 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, you 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!



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).


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!





10 Adar

FROM PARTNERS IN TORAH: On December 31st, the Chinese authorities reported a case of pneumonia in Wuhan to the World Health Organization. By January 3rd, 44 more similar cases were reported.  Fast forward just two months, there are now over 95,000 people diagnosed with Coronavirus around the globe...including some of our communities.


We’re witnessing the infectious spread of a virus (and its global impact), albeit invisible to the naked eye. It’s powerful; it’s scary. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, and we sincerely beg G-d to prevent further spread of this pandemic.


There’s so much to say, with so little space, so we’ll just share one brief insight: With a reality check on how quickly something can spread and the impact it can make, let’s counter by spreading other things:

  • Let’s spread unity.

  • Let’s spread kindness. 

  • Let’s spread inspiration.

  • Let’s spread happiness. 


Hakhel Note: You may want to become a Partner in Torah. For further information, visit www.partnersintorah.org



TESHUVAH MOMENT: Today is the fifth-month anniversary of Yom Kippur--Teshuva Bechol Yom--let us be driven by Yosair Mi’mah She’hayisi! What can we do before this special period takes leave of us?  May we suggest that one take out his Viduy booklet or Yom Kippur Machzor--why view it as ‘out-of-season’--if we can use it so well now to review our personal status more than five complete months into the year? Perhaps each Ahl Cheit can be recited in a standing, bent over position, with feeling and resolve to do better.  These are the unwavering elements of Teshuvah:  Charata--remorse over the past; Kabbalah--the resolve to turn over a new leaf; and Viduy--expressing it to Hashem…and to ourselves!



A GREAT UNDERSTANDING OF THE MISHKAN: At a Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Eli Mansour, Shlita, provided a remarkable and cogent explanation as to the four Parashiyos of the Mishkan (Terumah, Tetzaveh, Vayakhel and Pekudei)--as separated by Ki Sisa which discusses the Mishkan in part as well. To obtain a CD of the outstanding Shiur, please call: 718-252-5274.





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.



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 Tav, 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 Rebbi that becomes part of his students. They are caught up in the aura of the greatness of their Rebbi. 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, after Moshe Rabbeinu died. 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 Rebbi 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.”



A FEW ADDITIONAL BRIEF POINTS RELATING TO THIS WEEK’S PARASHAS TETZAVEH.  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 refined 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?


2.  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 zekeinim 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.  With this privilege comes the responsibility.  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 daven 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 man who wears a baseball cap to Mincha or Ma’ariv with the emblem of a sports team, or touting a Bluetooth-equipped ear during Shemone Esrei, or the young man clad in an outdoor jacket which proudly displays a western world brand insignia may not be in comport with the LeChavod U’LeSifores expected of every Torah Jew.  This Shabbos is a time to reattach ourselves to the dignity of the Avodah --by rethinking the regard we intend to give to it in our everyday lives!


Hakhel Note: The concept of wearing proper clothing for davening is actually 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!


4.  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, explains how Parashas Tetzaveh is very much related to Purim, which typically falls out close to its leining--there is a great common message between the Parasha and the Holiday.  It is not just that Achashveirosh dressed himself in the garments of the Kohein Gadol.  Rather, it is the lesson of how a Jew must act with his body.  Unlike Chanukah, in which we celebrate our Geulah from the Galus Yavan--the battle for spirituality, Purim is a day in which we celebrate our Geulah from the Galus of Paras U’Madai, which emphasized the physical world.  They drank from gold and silver containers, for example--even though these kinds of containers adversely affect the taste of the wine, in order to emphasize the importance of the physical world.  Achashveirosh, as king over 127 provinces, could have worn the most finely tailored garments at all times--and especially at his royal bash.  Nevertheless, he wanted to demonstrate victory of the Paras U’Madai concept of the body over the Jewish concept of the body, so he wore the garments of the Kohein Gadol as he engaged in the basest of physical pleasures.  The Jews who attended demonstrated their acquiescence with his conclusions--they were ne’heneh--they enjoyed the party in the same way as a party is enjoyed by the Paras U’Madai world.  How different we in fact are!  Chazal point out that when a Jew starts a Shabbos meal, he begins with a D’var Torah or words of Shiros V’Sishbachos to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  At Achashveirosh’s party, the conversation turned around to who were the fairest of maidens.  By the Jews participating, they succumbed to the attitude of superiority of the enticements of the physical world.  If they would have separated themselves, they would have demonstrated that the true goal of the physical world is to bring Hashem into its midst--which is exactly the meaning and symbol of the Mishkan.  On Purim, by dedicating the Seudah, the Mishloach Manos, the Matanos L’Evyonim--even the drinking to the Kedusha, which it represents, we build a Mishkan in which Hashem resides--even as we are still in a temporary Galus.  Our food, our clothing, our very being is sanctified! 



QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA? How well do you know this week’s Parasha? We provide below a portion of the questions and answers on this week’s Parasha as presented in the outstanding English Sefer Torahific! By Rabbi Maimon Elbaz, Shlita:


“1. Why were there two Mizbachos in the Mishkan and in the Beis Hamikdash? (Kli Yakar, Taam V’daas quoting Yoma 21a)


The human body has two main decision-makers: the brain and the heart. The two mizbachos (altars) symbolized that just as we offer sacrifices to Hashem on two vessels, we should always sacrifice our minds and heart’s desires to Hashem to fulfill His will! It has been said that the best Korban to sacrifice on the mizbeiyach of your heart is the Yetzer Hara itself!


2. Why were the Avneitim (belts) of the Kohanim so long (32 amos = approximately 50 feet)? (See Shita Mekubetzes to Erchin 15a, see Baal Haturim 28:6)


The numerical ‘value of the word Lev is 32. The Kohanim had a very long belt tied around the middle portion of their body to remind them that no matter how hard you work to do mitzvos, the main objective is that your heart should be involved in the mitzvah! One must do mitzvos wholeheartedly. If someone performs mitzvos superficially, the mitzvah loses its value in Hashem’s eyes. The Kohanim, the official servants of the King and the role models of Bnei Yisrael, must be very careful that all their avodah is performed with their heart. It should be pointed out that adults have 32 teeth because Hashem wants our mouth and our heart to be in sync, especially when we daven.  The 32-amah belt also acts as a separation between the upper, more spiritual part of the body, and the lower, more physical half. This divide reminds the Kohanim that they must be more involved in spiritual pursuits than physical pleasure. [It is for that reason Chassidim wear a gartel when they daven, which is called avoda shebelev, the work of the heart.]


3. When should you imagine that you are standing inside the Kodesh Kodoshim? (Mishnah Berurah Hilchos Tefillah 94:3)


When you daven before Hashem and take three steps forward, you are supposed to imagine that you are walking into a new world: that of the Holy of Holies, where you stand before the King of kings! (If we only knew how holy and powerful prayers really are!)


4. How do we know that money donated for community projects should be collected by at least two people? (Bava Basra 8b; see Rav Ovadyah Mi’Bartenura on Peah 8:7)


The pasuk uses the plural, “they collected” when speaking about the collection of gold, silver, etc., for use in the Mishkan. The procedure was to collect in pairs to avoid anybody suspecting a collector of pocketing money for himself. In order that there shouldn’t be anyone in “yichud” (seclusion) with the money, they collected in groups!


5. Which two creatures appeared upon the Eiphod? (Midrash Halachah)


The lion and the eagle were embroidered into the Eiphod. This surely reminded the Kohen Gadol and all those who beheld him of Yehuda ben Teimah’s maxim: “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion, to carry out the will of your Father in Heaven!” (Avos 5:23)


6. Why was the Menorah situated on the left of the·Shulchan, and not on its right side? (Peninim-Rabbi A.L. Scheinbaum shlit’a)


To one who stands outside the Kodesh Hakodashim, it appears that the Menorah is on the left of the Shulchan. However, to one who is more spiritual and views things from the Kodesh Hakodashim’s vantage point, the Menorah is on the right! The Menorah represents wisdom while the Shulchan represents wealth. We must never forget which is more important.


7. What else was inside the courtyard of the Mishkan, besides the vessels mentioned explicitly in the Torah? (Mi’shulchan Gavo’ah quoting the Brisker Rav)


The Brisker Rav, Z’tl, said that there must have been a mikveh in the courtyard of the Mishkan. He bases this on the pasuk that says Moshe was commanded to bring Aharon and his sons to the entrance of the Ohel Moed and then immerse them in water to purify them.


8. Why were there 72 bells on the Me’il? (Zevachim 88b, Ramban, Toras Ha’olah, Rabbeinu Bachya)


Rabbeinu Bachaya calculates that the world was created in 72 daylight hours during the six days of creation. The 72 ringing bells should remind us that the entire world was created for one purpose--Avodas Hashem!


9. Why is it common practice for Bnei Torah to wear black hats? (Ben Torah V’Yeshivah, Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt’l; see Shir Hashirim 1:5)


A hat is a symbol of one’s affiliation. A baseball player, police officer, or the guards at Buckingham Palace proudly wear their hats. A black hat represents the class of Bnei Torah, the group of Bnei Yisrael completely dedicated to the study of Torah as transmitted by Roshei Yeshiva. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, z”tl, once said, “I am prouder of a boy wearing a black hat than his wearing Tefillin. Although Tefillin is a mitzvah d’oraysa and a black hat is only a custom, it is an idealistic expression of commitment to Torah scholarship!”


10. What does Hashem love even more than the bringing of Korbanos? (Shemos Rabbah 38:4)


Hashem loves when we learn Torah more than when we bring Korbanos! Indeed, Hashem told Dovid Hamelech, “I appreciate your words of Tehillim and Torah more than the thousands of Korbanos that your son Shlomo will offer in the Beis Hamikdash!”



9 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim in Sha’ar HaSimcha writes:  “V’Chol Ha’Oseh HaMitzvos BeSimcha Yaish Lo Sechar Eleph Yados Mi’Mi She’Hamitzvos Alav LeMaso--One who performs Mitzvos with joy receives 1,000 times the reward of one who treats the Mitzvos as a burden.”  Many of us can easily become drained because of all of our daily tasks--as despite all of the machines and devices which are intended to save us time and make life more convenient and accomplishment-filled, we are left with a seemingly unending list of modern-man meanderings.  Our Mitzvah performance is truly threatened daily by the rush, the haste, the rote and habit, the weariness, and the hurried and harried environment around us.  If we can instead get into the habit of taking a moment to STOP and SAVOR a MITZVAH before performing it, a second to inhale the wonderful opportunity and benefit before davening, reciting a bracha, studying Torah, helping another, consciously refraining from Lashon Hora, paying a compliment to lift another’s spirit, helping a child or elderly person even if they are immediate family, then we will perform Mitzvos with the unabated joy that they deserve.  What a special Avodah for Adar--to work on appreciating our G-D Given Daily Opportunities and taking them out of the mode of something that ‘I have to do’ into something that ‘I am happy and spirited to do’.  Ivdu Es Hashem BeSimcha (Tehillim 100:2)--let Dovid Hamelech’s guiding words be a meaningful mantra and beacon of bright light for us in the coming weeks as we move towards Purim!



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



READ ALL ABOUT IT!  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the issur of Lashon Hora applies not only to the spoken word, but to the written word as well. While many may already now take that as an obvious given, the Chofetz Chaim brought to light for us that the term ‘Lashon’ is not to be taken literally to mean the tongue--but instead refers to the communication of a negative message. The recently published Dirshu Edition of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim (p.155), provides some important insights into the written form of Lashon Hora:


              1. The Maharsham writes in the name of the Rema that Lashon Hora in writing is more chamur  than Lashon Hora that is spoken--for the writing strengthens the negative words by giving it a more powerful and obvious lasting effect. Hakhel note: LET THE EMAIL OR TEXT WRITER BEWARE!


               2. The Nesivos Chaim rules that one who writes Lashon Hora does not violate the issur until a second person reads what he has written. Even if one has remorse over what he has done before the Lashon Hora is read by another, once the second person reads it--he must ask the person harmed or pained for forgiveness. If a person writes Lashon Hora and passes away, and it is then read by another, it would appear that he will be punished for his sin in the next world--and this is an example of how Mitzvos and r’l Aveiros can continue to accrue to a person in the next world.


               3.  HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Z’tl, rules that unless there is a Halachic to’eles, one cannot give another’s handwriting sample for handwriting analysis, as it may lead to negative commentary.


               4.  The Afikei Yam writes that when one writes Lashon Hora in a newspaper or periodical, it is obviously not only the publisher who is oveir for spreading the Lashon Hora, but the writer as well--for he knew all along that this would be the result. Moreover, the writer should know that he is oveir the prohibition of Lifnei Iveir hundreds or thousands of times, depending on the readership and their acceptance of the prohibited words. Even if a reader does not believe or accept the words as true--the reader is nevertheless oveir an issur of reading the words without to’eles (just as one is oveir an issur for listening to Lashon Hora without to’eles), even if he does not believe it--and the writer is responsible for each such violation. 


Hakhel Note One:  This is something very real about ‘the power of the pen’.  When one is r’l oveir an issur  622 times or 3,458 times--it does not mean that the Heavenly Court lumps everything together and he is judged on a ‘wholesale’ basis--it means that each count is separately considered and dealt with, one by painful one.


Hakhel Note Two: How important it is to make sure that the newspaper or periodical you are reading has a Rav or Posek reviewing its content!


Hakhel Note Three: Based upon the foregoing, one must be especially careful and circumspect about reading or participating in items of a blog nature--as words of an irretrievable nature pass around the world in seconds. 



IT MEANS A LOT TO BE FIRST:  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 90:14) writes that one should arise early in the morning to be among the first ten to shul in the morning. The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (ibid., note 46) provides the following valuable additional insights:


                1. Chazal (Brachos 47B) teach that one who is among the first ten receives reward equivalent to that of all those who come after him (with the larger the minyan, the larger the reward).  Hakhel Note: While we certainly do not perform Mitzvos with a focus only on reward, it should be clear to us that if the reward is so great, the chavivus of the act to Hashem must be great as well. We had pointed out yesterday that one should take daily strides towards the life goal of Deveikus B’Hashem--a goal that determines one’s closeness to Hashem in the eternal world. Demonstrating one’s desire to be among the first ten to meet Hashem in prayer would seem to indicate how strongly one seeks a closeness and relationship with his Maker.


                   2.  According to the Ma’adanei Yom Tov, the earlier one is among the first ten, the greater his reward as well--so that the second person to Shul gets the reward of the next eight, the third the reward of the next seven, etc. Once again, the concept of reward should also be taken in its pristine sense. The Zohar at the outset of Parashas Terumah teaches how great the first person who arrives is....


                  3. Even if one is not going to make it as one of the first ten, the Aruch Hashulchan writes that one should strive to come to Shul early--so that he is closer to Yenikas HaKedusha.


                  4. When leaving Shul, one should endeavor to be one of the last ten out of Shul--keeping the special Kedusha with him as long as he can.


                  5. The Kaf HaChaim writes that the elevated nature of being among the first ten applies not only to Shacharis--but to Mincha and Ma’ariv as well.



Hakhel Note:  One can take the lesson to be among the first to learn, the first to give tzedaka, the first to compliment another...don’t follow the leader--be the leader!



8 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT:  In this propitious month, we must strive to find new and different ways to serve Hashem through Simcha.  Not every move or attempt towards this goal has to involve major or earth-shattering events.  May we simply suggest approaching a friend or colleague and asking him “Did you smile today?”  Hopefully, this will evoke a smile.  One can then follow up with asking them to think about something in their life that they can smile about now--and hopefully they will smile again!  Their smile(s) could be fleeting--or they could take the uplifted feeling with them a little while longer--and your Ruach Adar may have changed their day.  You, in turn, have much cause for sublime rejoicing--in having made someone else’s day a happier one!  Keep up the Ruach Adar in others--and most certainly don’t allow yourself to falter!



FROM KASHRUS ALERTS COR DETROIT:  PRE-PESACH SHOPPING ADVICE: When shopping for Pesach products, each individual label should always be checked for Pesach certification. Consumers are cautioned not to take for granted that a product is Kosher for Pesach simply because it is in the Kosher for Pesach section of their store, or because a “Kosher for Pesach” sign is posted. Each year there are numerous instances, even in Jewish stores, of non-Pesach products mistakenly being mixed in with Pesach products, usually because their labels are almost identical. This occurs frequently with Telma soup mixes and cubes, Lieber’s dressings and Coat ‘n Bake coatings, various brands of frozen chopped liver and kishke, and Osem, Gefen, Haddar, Manischewitz, Empire and other brands of products that have both Pesach and non-Pesach versions of the same products with similar labels.


Storekeepers, likewise, should not take for granted that everything received in their Pesach shipment, even from a Jewish distributor, is indeed Pesach certified; non-Pesach products are frequently inadvertently mixed in. There have also been instances where the outsides of cases were marked Kosher for Pesach, but the products inside were not. Each individual label must always be checked for Pesach certification.


Some brands, e.g. Osem, do not bear the same certification on all of their products. Each product should be checked for a reliable certification. - In addition, some brands, especially those from Israel, bear more than one certification on a single package, but not all those certifications include approval for Pesach. In particular, the Badatz of Eida Hachareidis symbol often states specifically that its endorsement does not include Pesach. All products should be carefully examined for a reliable Pesach endorsement.  - Some products bear a non-Pesach certification printed on the label, and have an added stamp (often on the lid) saying Kosher for Pesach, but with no identification of the certifying organization. These should not be relied upon.



GETTING CLOSER TO HASHEM!  At the outset of the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim, the Ramchal teaches that one’s goal in life should be to grow in his Deveikus to Hashem.  Perhaps the most common way to meet this essence-of-life goal is to have the concepts of Shivisi Hashem Lenegdi Samid and Ain Ohd Milvado with oneself (and better yet on his lips) throughout the day.  There is an additional important daily avodah in this area. HaRav Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, brings from the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, that any ‘small’ act that we do during the day--if consciously done for the sake of Heaven--forges the very same bond. Thus, even when one puts on or ties the appropriate shoe first (depending on whether he is a righty or a lefty), not because it is easier or more convenient--but because he wants to do the will of Hashem--he is taking a very real step closer to the essence of man.  Just as a fine young chosson or kallah would like to do anything to please or demonstrate their love to their mate--so too should one proceed though the day with the awareness of his pursuit of this supernal aspiration. One should especially remember that the degree of Deveikus--albeit so snubbed and rejected by western society as life’s purpose--will dictate and define his closeness to Hashem in Olam Haba--forever!



THE CHOSHEN AND AIFOD:  Two articles of the Kohen Gadol which had to stay together when worn--were the Choshen and the Aifod--the breastplate and the apron.  Thus, the Choshen was tied on all four corners to the Aifod.  This requires some explanation.  After all, the Choshen was intended to provide forgiveness for the sin of “Kilkul Hadin--perverting justice.”  On the other hand, the Aifod was to provide forgiveness for the sin of Avoda Zara.  Why did these two articles--which brought about kapara for such diverse sins need to be tied together? 


HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, explains that these two avairos are very much “connected”, for they both involve the grave sin of kefira--denial of Hashem.  When one worships Avoda Zara, even if he joins it with service of Hashem, he is denying Hashem’s Omnipotence.  So too, with someone who deals dishonestly in monetary matters.  If he feels that he can outsmart his colleague, customer or competitor, if he purchases a product with “shtick” in order to save money, if he takes advantage of a big company “because everybody does”, or if he gently pads his time…--all of these provide indication that the person believes that he is in control of his financial destiny--that it is he, his mental prowess, or his technical skill, who will determine whether he is or will be poor, middle-class or wealthy.  We are therefore, enjoined to always remember to keep the Choshen together with the Aifod--for we must always realize that just as we would never, ever, think of worshipping an idol, or the sun, or the stars in any form or manner--for that matter, so, too, should we never, ever cheat, lie or steal in any form or manner in our lives.



YOSHPHEH: As we have noted in the past, the Chasam Sofer explains that the month of Adar, according to his reckoning, is representative of Shevet Binyamin. He explains that the stone on the Choshen for Binyomin is Yoshpheh--which can be split into two words--Yesh Peh--he has a mouth.  This, the Chasam Sofer explains, is what allowed Mordechai from Shevet Binyomin to be victorious over the Lishna Bisha--the evil words of Haman which were set to literally destroy K’lal Yisrael.  Mordechai was a descendant of Binyomin who had a mouth--but kept it closed and did not tell his father Yaakov what his brothers had done to Yoseph; Binyomin’s descendant, Shaul Hamelech also had a mouth, but once again kept it closed until the time came to be declared King; Esther HaMalka as well did not reveal ‘moladata’ where she was from despite the immense pressure from the king for her to do so--and as a result all of K’lal Yisrael was saved.  The closed mouth of Binyomin--the Yoshpheh literally brought salvation to us all.  By following in the Yoshpheh tradition (you may even very well be from Shevet Binyomin!), you are not only saving your mouth from evil, you are not only immensely improving your words of Torah and your words of Tefillah--but you are bringing us all one step closer to the Bais Hamikdash --Hashem’s House--especially nestled to a great and special extent in the nachala of Shevet Binyomin!



QUOTABLE QUOTES: At a Hakhel Shiur on Shidduchim, Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita provided many essential halachos and hashkafos. We provide just a few points made:


                   1. There is no such thing as ‘the best Shidduch’--it is the best Shidduch for your son or for your daughter. Accordingly, if one is called as a reference and (inappropriately) is asked the general question of “Tell me all about ....”, he/she should respond with--”Why not tell me what your son/daughter is looking for--and I will be able to better respond to you....”


                    2.  Shlomo Hamelech teaches us “Lev Tzadik Yehega La’anos”--the righteous person thinks before he responds. Responses that are not weighed, sometimes referred to as ‘shotgun’ responses, might be exactly that--and cause injury to all concerned.


                    3.  Similarly, the Ramban on Chumash writes that the term Pessi in Hebrew, which is translated as an unwise person, is related to the word Pisom--sudden, for he acts or speaks without thinking. Accordingly, if one is unsure what to say to an inquiry over the phone--he should simply say that he can’t talk now...and take a number to call the person back after thinking it through, or asking a Shaila (The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline phone number in the United States is 718-951-3696, evenings from 9-10:30 pm, New York time).


                    4. One should be sure to give accurate information. Using vague terms, or terms which could be misinterpreted, is not fair to anyone. Saying that a boy is a B’aal Shitah, or ‘laid back’ or using other labels without defining them is patently incorrect.


                    5. A parent should make all necessary inquiries before a first date--and not say that he will look into it more after the second or third date, once it is determined that the boy and girl are more serious. When inquiring, one need not ask the same question to more people than necessary--instead one should carefully choose who he/she is asking the question(s) to.


To listen to the complete essential Shiur, one can obtain a CD or download of this Shiur by calling 718-252-5274.



7 Adar

TESHUVAH MOMENT: 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!  



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



PLEASE--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, please contact us.




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 RELATED MEGILLAH NOTE--Q & A: The following Q & A--as had 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.”




A PURIM PRIMER: 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 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 Schwalb 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!





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. 


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.


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



7 Adar






8 Adar







9 Adar
















11 Adar





□ Maariv


12 Adar









13 Adar








14 Adar








Hatzlacha--to all of us!



6 Adar



1.  If you start today learning Mishnayos Megillah and learn just four 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 (with Perek Yud together with Perek Tes), you will have completed your review of the Megillah on Purim.  Remember--the Torah Jew places special emphasis not only on the Mitzvah--but on the Hachana --the preparation for the Mitzvah!



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, please contact us.



TESHUVAH MOMENT: Upon arising, after declaring Modeh Ani, focus for a moment on an item of Teshuvah you will be dedicating yourself to in the coming day… Special care in speech? Brachos recitation with Kavannah as to the meaning of the words? Timeliness as to Minyanim, Shiurim, meetings?... The special care one dedicates himself/herself to could be a shining and guiding light throughout the day!



TOMID! HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points out that the Rema begins Shulchan Aruch with the Pasuk: “Shevisi 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!



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!



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!



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).


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