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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin





1. By signing up for Mishna daily, you will learn 3 Mishnayos every day, with Chazara on Shabbos, and in only four years you will finish all of Shas Mishnayos!  Join by emailing mishnadaily@gmail.com and receive an email with Mishna text, a calendar, and a short audio explanation.


2.  Mishna Yomis (The International Mishna Yomis Program) began Seder Mo’ed on Friday, May 27th.  The program studies two Mishnayos a day--today’s study is still in the first Perek of Mishnayos Shabbos--the first Chapter of the first Mesechta!  What a time to join--in preparation for Shavuos! 


Hakhel Note:  There is a wonderful website., dafyomireview.com/index.php, that can generate review charts with many different parameters.  These charts can be exported to excel and  then made into PDF files.  Tomorrow, we hope to provide the Mishna Yomis calendar for all of Seder Mo’ed--which will conclude on April 20, 2012 --a Siyum in less than a year!  We also hope to provide the same calendar with a built-in review as generated by www.dafyomireview.com.  We thank a reader for bringing this to our attention--and we always look forward to our precious reader contributions.



Special Note Two:  At the Hakhel Shiur yesterday, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, advised that before beginning Shemone Esrei, one should picture himself about to enter Heichal Kadsho, to have a personal encounter with the Melech Malchei HaMelochim!  He provided two additional suggestions to help prepare for the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei:  First, as one takes three steps forward, he/she should straighten out his/her clothing, much in the way as when you have just been called into an interview, you fix your jacket, tie, or dress, so that it appears correct.  Second, he suggested simulating the Bracha in a practice exercise from time-to-time, so that without pressures one could review the words and the phrases slowly, gaining insights which will improve the Bracha’s recitation going-forward. 


We continue now with a few brief thoughts on the second Bracha of Shemone Esrei, which is where we are focusing our special Kavanna this week, building on last week’s Kavanna in the first Bracha: 


a.  Chazal teach that a person who sleeps is experiencing ‘one-sixtieth of death.’  Therefore, we suggest that every morning one should have special appreciation for the Gevuras Hashem in bringing him back to life! 


b.  We recite Mi Chamocha Ba’al Gevuros--Gevuros is not only in the plural because there are so many Gevuros Hashem, but also because they are so very diverse.  The same Hashem who protects me personally BeHashgacha Pratis--also brings the sun, rain, and sustenance to the entire world! 


c.  The Sefer Berumo Shel Olam brings from the Sefer Reishis Chochma, that the Gevuros referred to in this Bracha are all tied to and sweetened by Chesed (Gevurah Keshura B’Chesed).  Recite the phrases with this meaning--Mechalkel Chayim B’Chesed, Mechayeh Meisim B’Rachamim Rabbim, Someich Noflim, VeRofeh Cholim, U’Matir Assurim, U’Mekayeim Emunaso….  Indeed, even when we say Melech Maimis--it is immediately followed by U’Mechayeh.  We should greatly appreciate, then, how the purpose of all of Hashem’s Gevurah is to bring Chesed upon us!



Special Note Three:  The oft-quoted words of HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, Z’TL, Rosh HaYeshiva of the Kamenitz Yeshiva is quoted in Growth Through Torah (p.287) as follows: “What can I compare to my situation?  I wake up in the morning, and it is as though I have the Shaagas Aryeh, the Ketzos HaChoshen and Rebbe Akiva Eiger at my bedside.  I can’t wait to wash my hands and arise to my riches!”


Truth be told, the riches referred to by Rav Boruch Ber are not unique to Roshei Yeshivos or world renowned Talmidei Chachomim, but, as Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Mishlei ( 3:14 ) “For its [the Torah’s] commerce is better than the commerce of silver, and its gain [is better] than fine gold.”  We must remember that unlike money, which is fixed, objective and extrinsic (you put it in your pocket--not in your heart or brain), Torah is so infinite, subjective and internal that it relates to every single person living at any time in his own way and on his own particular level.  In fact HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, learns that when the Gemara (Nidah 30B) teaches that an Angel learns Torah with a fetus in his mother’s womb--it does not necessarily refer to all of Torah, but **TO THAT PERSON”S **chelek, or part, in Torah.  While we are expected to cover some ground in Torah before some ground covers us, in no event will two individuals’ quantity or quality of learning be the same.


It is truly a primary responsibility to discover our part in Torah, in at least the same way as we try to be successful in our business, at our jobs, or even when shopping.  Not always is what is easy or convenient most meaningful.  The G’ra writes in Sefer Evan Sheleima that one can go to many lectures, and hear many “shmuessen”--but ultimately a person’s strategy must come from within--from his particular self-knowledge, to be successful.  As succinctly stated by Hillel in Avos ( 1:14 )--“If I am not for myself who will be for me?”


As we reach closer and closer to Shavuos, we all, men, women and children alike, should begin to prepare for the “closing”--for the acquisition of something more precious than anything we can even imagine.  Somehow the coveted contract is ours--unbelievably, we are the purchasers!  So what can we do to prepare for this day?  Each person must reflect upon, research and study what he is going to do with his new acquisition.  Is he learning enough now?  What is his potential?  What must he change?  Will he leave more learning to retirement age--even though the wisest of all men has already told him which business is more important?


This reflection can be accomplished by actually sitting down with a pad and paper and an open mind.  This is by no means limited to men--there are many Halachos and Hashkafos, shiurim, books and self-study that are imperative for women, as well.


We ** ALL ** should wake up every morning to our riches at our bedside--why leave them in the locked Bais HaMedrash?



Special Note Four:  It is now about one week to Shavous…and counting (Baruch Hashem)!  We should remember that in addition to our commemoration of receiving the Torah, there are other mitzvos associated with Shavuos.


Firstly, although Shavuos is only one or two days, the Mitzvah of Simcha is no different on Shavuos than on Pesach or Sukkos.  To properly prepare for this Mitzvah, we must make sure that everyone has what they need to be in the proper state of Simcha on Yom Tov (including sleep!).  This especially means that meat, wine, new clothing and special treats must be purchased as needed.  Indeed, the Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 529, seif koton 2) quoting Chazal (Baitza, 16A), writes that a person’s exact income is determined on Rosh HaShanah, except that if one expends additional monies on certain designated Mitzvos, his income will be increased “dollar for dollar” for the additional monies spent on these Mitzvos.  One of these Mitzvos is additional money spent for the sake of Yom Tov. [One should consult with his Rav or Posek if he is already in credit card or other debt, or cannot pay his bills in the ordinary course, for Halachic instruction on Yom Tov purchases.]


Secondly, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) writes that one must make sure that the “Ger, Yasom, Almonah, together with other poor people, are taken care of on Yom Tov, as well.”  Accordingly, we must give Tzedaka now (i.e., today!) to make sure that others less fortunate than ourselves have the opportunity to celebrate Simchas Yom Tov in Eretz Yisroel and abroad.  Tzedaka organizations in Eretz Yisroel are especially hurting—hurting--for funds to feed the poor.  You can go to www.YadEliezer.org right now to help a family in the Holy Land smile and be happy on Shavuos together with you, to fulfill Chazal’s teaching--“I was happy, and I made others happy too.”


Thirdly, we should remember that there are certain mitzvos relating to the Yom Tov--actually, essential to the Yom Tov--which we will be unable to perform this Shavuos unless the Moshiach arrives first.  The Mitzvos of Aliyah L’Regel to the Bais HaMikdash--yes, even for only one day; the various Karbonos, including the special Kivsei Atzeres, Shtai Halechem, Olas Re’iya,Shalmei Chagiga and Korbanos Musaf are all physically and spiritually, shatteringly and irreplaceably, lost from us if the Moshiach does not come.


At the very least, we should attempt to study these Mitzvos as a preparation for or at least on Yom Tov itself, so that we are not totally forsaken of them.  For starters, one can study the Sefer HaChinuch, the Siddur Bais Yaakov of HaRav Yaakov Emden, or even easier, the Parshios of the Torah relating to these many Mitzvos. We should also purposefully daven over the next week that we fully and finally celebrate this Shavuos with the Shechina in Yerushalayim Ihr Hakodesh!


Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Ramchal, HaRav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Z’tl, who lit the world with the great works Mesilas Yesharim, Derech Hashem and other powerful chiburim.  The G’ra himself is reputed to have said that there is not one superfluous word in the first eight (8) chapters of the Mesilas Yesharim.  The Ramchal starts the Mesilas Yesharim with the words “Yesod HaChasidus V’Shoresh HaAvodah”--the foundation of saintliness and the root of perfection in the service of Hashem…”  The Ramchal passed away during Sefira--on the day whose attribute is “Yesod SheBeYesod” (Foundation of Foundations).  It is clear that with his Ruach HaKodesh, he foresaw that he would provide us with the foundation of foundations for hundreds of years to come.


In view of what the Ramchal has done for us all, we wish to highlight the timeless words which conclude the Mesilas Yesharim (Translated from The Path of the Just, Feldheim Publishers):


We can easily understand that every person needs direction and guidance in accordance with his skills and his occupation, since the path of piety appropriate for one whose “Torah is his vocation” is unsuitable for one who must place himself at the employ of another; and neither of these ways is suitable for one who is engaged in his own business.  And this is the case regarding all the other particulars of human affairs in the world.  There is a path to piety that is suitable to each and every individual, whatever his [vocation].  That is not to say that the nature of piety varies, for it is the same for everyone, since its goal is to bring pleasure to the Creator.  But in view of the fact that circumstances are always changing, the means leading toward the implementation of the goal must also vary, according to the circumstances that prevail.  It is possible that someone who out of necessity is a simple artisan may become a completely pious person, like an individual who never stops learning.  And it states (ibid 16:4): “The Eternal created everything for His own sake.”  And it says (ibid 3:4): “In all of your ways know Him, and He will direct your paths.


May the Blessed One, in His mercy, open our eyes through His Torah and guide us in His ways and lead us in His paths, and may we be worthy of glorifying His name and pleasing Him.  ”May the glory of the Eternal endure forever, let the Eternal rejoice in His works” (Tehillim 104:31).  ”Let Israel rejoice in its Maker, let the Sons of Zion exult in their King” (ibid. 149:2) Amen, Amen, Amen!


We should absorb these very precious words of the Ramchal--for they are directed to us.  It is each and every one of us whose role in life is to follow the Path of the Just.  May we always have the alertness, sense, ability and fortitude to bring honor, glory and pleasure to our Creator!



Special Note Two:  Perhaps one of the most popular questions raised regarding the Giving of the Torah, is why it was given in the desert.  You probably could count five answers on one hand with what you have heard over time.


HaRav Shimshon Pincus Z’tl, looks at the question from a different perspective.  HaRav Pincus asks not why the Torah was actually given in the Midbar, but rather why the Torah was **not** given in Eretz Yisroel.  After all, does not the very air of Eretz Yisroel itself make one wise?  Wouldn’t the intense Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel per se have a unique and special effect on those receiving the Torah?  Is not the complete performance of the Mitzvos dependent on their performance in Eretz Yisroel in any event?!


HaRav Pincus answers that we must put the Giving of the Torah in its proper perspective.  On Pesach, HaKadosh Baruch Hu chose us as his Kallah, as his bride.  The Shidduch was made, and we celebrate our new relationship over Pesach.  The days of Sefirah are the equivalent of the engagement period--between the Vort and the Chasuna itself.  Shavuos is then, the Great Wedding, where Hashem came out to greet us as a Chasan steps forward to greet his Kallah.  The period after Shavuos is the time in which the newfound relationship was to be firmly and eternally established.


We can now understand why the Torah had to be given in the desert.  The proverbial Choson and Kallah needed time with each other, without any distractions whatsoever--not even holy or important ones--in order to form an eternal bond.  Giving the Torah in Eretz Yisroel would be the equivalent of getting married in a kitchen, even if it was Glatt Kosher LeMehadrin--As soon as the Chupa was over, the Choson would soon be learning how to use the Shabbos Clock, and the Kallah would start figuring out how to make cholent!  Just as the Yichud room follows immediately after the Chupa so that the newlyweds can focus on each other and only on each other, so, too, did we need our special time to be separated from everything else and unite with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.


Baruch Hashem our relationship started off properly.  We had the proper Yichud, our connection with Hashem was developed without interruption or disturbance.  As a result, our potential for dveykus--for a close and tight bond--with Hashem is, and always will be, at a maximum level.


So, we are now like the Choson and Kallah about a week before the Chupa.  The anticipation, the last minute preparations, the prayers that everything goes right…but we must also remember that the goal to be achieved when Shavous arrives is not only the marvelous and incomparable moment of the Wedding itself, but also the raising of our own personal ever-special and eternally-lasting relationship that must follow, as expressed by the love that we have for Hashem, the improved way in which we study His Torah and the devoted manner and especially warm care in which we perform His Mitzvos!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our Program to have special Kavannah in a Bracha of Shemone Esrei in the last 19 weeks of the year.  Last week, we fortified our recitation of the first Bracha of Avos.  This week, as the 18th week before the end of the year, we hope to revitalize our recitation of the second Bracha:


The second brocha of Shemone Esrei is known as the brocha of “Gevuros”, for in this brocha we demonstrate HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s absolute omnipotence.


The Ritva (Taanis 2A) notes that the concept of T’chiyas HaMeisim--revival of those not alive--is mentioned four (4) times in this brocha.  While T’chiyas HaMeisim is certainly unparalleled gevura--why need it be mentioned four different times within one short brocha?  As we know, the Anshei K’nesses HaGadola compiled each brocha B’Ruach HaKadosh, and each word is very literally counted and deeply meaningful.  See the remarkable words of the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 112:4,5).


Because of the strength of this question, the Ritva teaches that in fact there is no reiteration here at all.  Rather, there are four separate and distinct forms of T’chiyas HaMeisim mentioned in this brocha:


FIRST:  “Mechaye Meisim Ata Rav L’Hoshia” is immediately followed (in the winter months) by Morid HaGeshem, because this phase refers to Hashem’s bringing us to life with proper rain, which bring us our food and sustenance.


SECOND:  “Mechaye Meisim B’Rachamim Rabim” (which is followed by Somech Noflim) refers to people who are seriously or even deathly ill whom HaKadosh Boruch Hu brings back to life through miraculous healing power.


THIRD:  ”Melech Meimis U’Mechaye” refers to the departed whom the Neviim (such as Eliyahu HaNavi and Elisha HaNavi) helped bring back to life, and additionally to those whom Hashem brings to life “B’Olom HaNeshomos” (obviously this is a nistar concept).


FOURTH:  “V’Neeman Ata L’Hachayos Meisim” refers to the ultimate T’chiyas HaMeisim, which we all anxiously await.


We see here how Hashem’s greatest gevuros have always been with us, are currently with us and will in the future be with us, as well.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  During this week, appreciate the great Gevuros Hashem, by stopping at each of the four references to T’chiyas HaMeisim and thinking for a second about its particular meaning.



Special Note Four:  When one sits down to study Torah he may feel anxious, nervous, or frazzled because of the events of the day until that point.  A person may have so many obligations and stresses that the times used for Torah study may be beset by personal, financial and other concerns.


Imagine you had $1 billion in Tzedaka funds to give away (this is not as far-fetched a scenario as you think).  Imagine how much calmer and at ease you would be, how much more focused and directed.  Now, let’s think about it--you do have $1 billion in your Tzedaka fund to give.  Seriously.  How so?  Because just as the person in your neighborhood who has $1 billion in Tzedaka to give away has what Hashem determined are the needs and necessities of his life, so too, do you have all of the needs and necessities that Hashem has determined to be what is necessary in your life.  And who knows better than Hashem?


One should maximize the time spent learning--without perturbation or disturbance from the outside factors and pressures that the Yetzer Hora sends to adversely impact on his Torah Study.  Remember--you’re rich, very rich--when you are studying Torah!


HaRav Scheinberg, Shlita, 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.”  HaRav Scheinberg is also said to respond to some who request a Brocha for themselves or their children in Torah study, “I will give the Brocha--but they have to do their part--will they take upon themselves to study a few extra minutes a day?”  In fact, the Sefer Orchos Tzadikim (Shaar HaZerizus) writes that “...for “sha’ah achas”--one hour of Torah study, even if it is only to learn one teaching or lesson, is better than anything else in the world....”

Special Note One:  Relating to yesterday’s Note on all that occurs is by the Hand of Hashem, with nothing--absolutely nothing--by chance or by accident, a reader pointed out that the letters of ‘Mikreh’(chance) can be rearranged as ‘Rak MeiHashem.’  We add that a commonly used word in last week’s Tochacha was ‘Keri’ (happenstance)--seeming to indicate that a fatal cause of Tochacha is the attitude of ‘BeMikreh’--it was happenstance, chance, etc.--not recognizing the Yad Hashem in the 'news' of your day...or the world's day.  Let us keep the BeMikreh words off our lips and out of our thoughts--or at least rewrite and rethink them to…Rak MeiHashem! 



Special Note Two:  We received the following from a reader:  “HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked what American Jews should do in order to improve their difficult situation relating to illnesses, Chinuch problems, and Parnassah, and in general how the ‘charon af’ apparent in the world could be removed.  HaRav Kanievsky responded as follows:  Ya’asu Yom Kippur Koton’--they should organize and participate in Yom Kippur Koton gatherings.  At this crucial point in history, with worldwide turbulence in many areas, and with the ‘friendship’ of the Malchus Shel Chesed on shaky ground, we note that Yom Kippur Koton next week is on Thursday, June 2nd.  If it is as all possible for one to find his way to a Yom Kippur Koton Minyan, he would certainly be demonstrating a level of care and concern--and following the advice of HaRav Kanievsky on what to do about it!  If one can organize a special Yom Kippur Koton Minyon in his office or workplace minyan, he will clearly be Mizake all of those around him as well. It is only approximately an additional one-half hour--and the results are boundless!  Artscroll has published a special pamphlet (The Sohn Edition Yom Kippur Koton Service) which is available in Seforim stores, or online at www.artscroll.com.  Once again, if at all possible--join or organize Yom Kippur Koton at Mincha this coming Thursday!  Help make yourself a better person...and the world a better place!



Special Note Three:  As we have just completed a cycle of daily study of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim and commenced the last daily cycle of the 5771 year to end on Erev Rosh Hashanah, we provide by clicking here a summary review of the Seven Prerequisites that are necessary in order to permissibly relate what would otherwise be considered Lashon Hara   You can print it out, cut it into the size of a card, and leave it in your wallet.  On the other side of the card, you can put the following notation:  “Any questions--call the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline: 718-951-3696, 9:00 to 10:30 PM , EST.


Hakhel Note:  There is a meaningful Mashal given by the Chofetz Chaim.  He tells of the wealthy person who became more miserly as he got older, and decided that he could get by eating a little less and a little less every day.  Each month he saved a little more…five rubles…then ten rubles…then fifteen rubles.  By the fourth month, however, he was so weak that he had to spend money to go to the doctor.  After reviewing his situation, the doctor advised him that his was in real danger of starvation--and that it would cost 200 rubles for medicine to heal him.  The elderly man's plan to save a few rubles resulted in a huge and disastrous expense.  The Nimshal is to a person who raises a Machlokes because of a few dollars here, or speaks Lashon Hara because of a few dollars there.  He may be upset and concerned about --and even ultimately save the money here and there--but the severity of the machlokes and the deleterious effects of the Lashon Hara will far, far, far, exceed the gain from the few dollars or even ‘the principle of the thing.’  We therefore must urge ourselves on to look at these Seven Prerequisites, and to ask a Shailah when in doubt…in order to save much more than those 200 rubles way down the line--in Olam HaZeh and Olam Haba!



Special Note Four:  The following is excerpted from Praying with Fire, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, Day 50:  “Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk would say the following words before entering a Shul to pray: ‘Know where you are entering; What you will do there; Who is in this house; Whose house it is; and Who empowered you to enter this house.” 


Hakhel Note 1:  Even if we don’t have these words committed to memory, we can and should readily think of similar thoughts in order to better appreciate the great opportunity before us.  Some recite the Posuk “VeAni BeRov Chasdecha Avo Veisecha Eshtachaveh El Haichal Kadshecha BeYirasecha” (Tehillim 5:8) as they bow and enter into Shul.


Hakhel Note 2:  Just as the way we enter Shul is an important portal to how we will conduct ourselves there, so too, will Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei put us on the appropriate track for the remainder of our Meeting with Hashem in Shemone Esrei.  The Tur writes in the name of his brother (Rebbi Yechiel, Z’tl) that the first Bracha has 42 words, which corresponds to Hashem’s Name of 42 letters (see Kiddushin 71A).  With this, we should appreciate every words of the first Bracha for each word is an inherent part in the formation of the Sheim Hashem.  An astonishing allusion to this, is that the Bracha begins with a ‘bais’ (the numerical equivalent of two), and ends with a ‘mem’ (the numerical equivalent of 40)--adding up to 42 as well--every word and indeed every letter is permeated with Kedusha!



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


A.  We are instructed to always emulate the ways of Hashem.  One of Hashem’s traits is ‘LeHachayos Lev Nidkaim’--to give spirit, to give life to those who are downcast.  Certainly on Shabbos Kodesh we should be ever vigilant to uplift one who appears down--as on Shabbos one is not himself permitted to have thoughts or undertake actions which will lead him to be sad.  Let the day be one of Oneg--for everyone you encounter!


B.  Every Wednesday, HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions.  Questions 16-20 were covered last week.  We now continue with a summary of those questions:


Bishul Achar Bishul - Cooking After Cooking



There is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether a liquid that has been cooked and then cooled is subject to the laws of Bishul. Some Poskim say that if the liquid has cooled below Yad Soledes Bo, it is subject to Bishul, and others argue that once the liquid has been cooked, it is no longer subject to the laws of Bishul even if it is now cool. Somewhat of a compromise is reached in the final ruling, as follows:


In general we apply the principle of "Yesh Bishul Achar Bishul BeDavar Lach" - there is cooking after cooking in the case of a liquid. It would therefore be prohibited to reheat cold chicken soup. However, if the liquid is still warm enough to be considered appreciably warm/hot, even though it is not Yad Soledes Bo, then the Poskim are lenient and Bishul does not apply. Therefore. it would be permitted to reheat warm chicken soup even though it is not Yad Soledes Bo.



With cooked solids, however, we apply the rule, "Ein Bishul Achar Bishul BeDavar Yavesh--there is no cooking after cooking with a dry solid. Therefore, a solid food that has been fully cooked but has since cooled may be reheated on Shabbos by placing it in a Keli Rishon that has been removed from the fire. It is however forbidden to place the solid in a Keli Rishon standing on the fire--since to the onlooker this appears to be an act of cooking.


Why the difference between solids and liquids? There are two elements to the cooking process:

  1. Heating

  1. Cooking


In the case of a liquid, the main function of Bishul is heating, and therefore Yesh Bishul Achar Bishul BeDavar Lach. With a solid, the main aspect of Bishul is the transformation of a solid from a raw, inedible food into an edible, cooked food. Once this has been achieved, reheating is not considered Bishul - Ein Bishul Achar Bishul BeDavar Yavesh!



Special Note Six:  As we move closer to Shavuos, we begin to sense a greater closeness to climbing the mountain itself.  During this special period, the Yetzer Hara may be at serious work, actually attempting for us to have a yerida, rather than an aliyah.  He has many techniques and trials available to challenge you with at this time:  This may go wrong with davening, that may go wrong with learning.  This may go wrong at work, that may go wrong at home....  We must especially bolster ourselves, and if there is, in fact, a yerida, we should try to make sure that it instead takes us to a further aliyah.  Rather than stumbling, or even despairing from any new, unique or strange pre-Shavuos circumstances or situations--we should use it to propel us higher up the mountain.  As Chazal teach, Lefum Tza'ara Agra--according to the necessary effort (such as a steeper mountain) is the fruit born. 


In this important regard, Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, provides a great observation.  He explains that Pesach and Sukkos may, at least in theory. begin on their own simply by closing your doors at home, driving to a hotel, handing them your credit card, and taking pleasure in the days of Yom Tov.  No, preparation, no sweat in advance--and hopefully enjoying Oneg and Simchas Yom Tov with family and/or friends!  Shavuos, however, is very different, as its name indicates.  There is no Matzah or Seder as there is inherent in Pesach, nor is there a Sukkah to dwell in or a Lulav and Esrog to take, as is part and parcel of Chag HaSukkos.  Instead, the essence of the Yom Tov is the ‘Shavuos’--the weeks that precede it--that lead up in preparation to the Yom Tov.  Only after, as the Torah refers to it, the Sheva Shabbosos Temimos, can we celebrate Shavuos!  There are no particular Mitzvah or Mitzvos associated with this Yom Tov at all, because the preparation for our Kabbalos HaTorah is the essence of the Yom Tov--and the climax is in our hands reaching up and out as we reach the top of the mountain! 


We should take the time this Shabbos to reflect upon our preparation and where it will be going over the next 10 days.  What will I begin that is new?  What is it that I will reinforce?  How can I make sure that I will enter Shavuos with the term properly referring to is as Shavuos?  Hashem has blessed us with a mind to use.  Let us use it for this most sublime and lofty of purposes--which literally fulfills our lives, and even more literally fulfills the world!



Special Note One:  For those who have already viewed iProd (see link below), they know the mistake that they are bli neder committed never to make again.  For those who have so committed, we provide a listing of the following Brachos from the Zohar, as set forth in a publication issued by Hidabroot:


“The Zohar says: ‘…two angels are invited to testify, and they say, “We testify that so-and-so brought people close to their Father in Heaven.”  The Shechinah is then filled with joy that her distant son was brought close to her.  At that time, Hashem signals to an official, who brings the figure who brings merit to Hashem's children… [who] is [then] given: 70 keys, containing all his Master's treasures, entry to 70 hidden worlds, and all the blessings that Hashem blessed Avraham Avinu, who also brought people close to Hashem.


Come and see, whoever has a part in bringing people close to their Father in Heaven:  Overrides the Sitra Achra, elevates Hashem's Name, supports This World and the Next…in the World to Come, the twelve gates of Gan Eden are opened to him, so that he may rejoice with those who dwell there.


If people knew how many benefits and merits are held for one who draws Jews closer to Hashem, they would pursue Jews in order to bring them merit, as one pursues life.  One who gives charity to the poor merits many things, but one who brings merit to fellow Jews, and draws near to those who are estranged, merits much more because he repairs the soul and causes the submission of the Sitra Achra in the world.’  (Zohar, Terumah 128-129).”



Special Note Two:  Sometimes in life we have to look up, sometimes we must look down. Instead of looking down at the seemingly ravenous person at a smorgasbord who eats hovering near the serving trays or sits down with two to four plates of various delicacies in front of him, we suggest looking up and aspiring to the following description of how Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, Z’tl, (The Mashgiach of Kamenitz, p. 383) conducted himself:  “The preparatory steps he took before eating were a true divine worship.  He said a supplication not to stumble by eating forbidden foods, that his eating be kosher, that his Creator would consider it like a Mincha offering and a sacrifice.  He would then meditate intensely on the exalted purpose of eating to strengthen one’s body to serve the Creator.” 


Hakhel Note:  If the above seems way out of reach for the average individual, perhaps we can try it at least occasionally.  We note that the Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 231, seif katan 5) writes in the name of the Chayei Odom that he saw men of good deeds who would say “Hineni rotzeh le’echol v’lishtos k’dei she’eheye bori v’chazak LaAvodas Hashem Yisborach (I now would like to eat/drink in order to be healthy and strong in the service of Hashem, Blessed be He).” Only with aspiration, inspiration and effort (and davening) can one turn the mundane into the spiritual!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our quest to improve our Kavannah in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week.  The following is excerpted from the monumental Artscroll work Rav Schwab on Prayer, and was related by Rav Schwab at a Shiur he gave on Tefillah:  “I heard a story from Rav Yosef Breuer, Shlita, which he told about his father, my Rebbe, Rav Shlomo Zalman (Solomon) Breuer.  The elder Rav Breuer was a very good friend of Rav Shimon Sofer, the Rav of Cracow, a brother of the Ksav Sofer, and a son of the Chasam Sofer.  Once when the two friends met, Rav Shimon Sofer asked Rav Breuer to tell him a short ‘vort’ from his father-in-law, Rav Shamshon R. Hirsch.  Upon which, Rav Breuer told him that Rav Hirsch would point out that while Adon Olam described the unfathomable eternity and omnipotence of Hashem, it nevertheless makes a reference to Him in a very personal way--“VeHu Kaili, He is my G-d.”  Each person in his Tefillah says:  ‘I have a personal relationship with HaKadosh Baruch HU, He is my personal G-d.’  Therefore, whenever a person says the word “ Ado --i, my Master”, no matter how small he thinks he is, he is averring that he is in direct contact with Hashem.  This thought is in the introduction to any individual’s Iyun Tefillah, concentration on Prayer.  There is nothing mystical or supernatural about it.  It should be the most natural thing in the world.”


Hakhel Note A:  When reciting the name of Hashem, which is so often repeated in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei, it is very important to have this warm and moving thought and feeling in mind--and hopefully remember it even as you proceed and recite Hashem’s name through the rest of Shemone Esrei!


Hakhel Note B:  Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Mishlei (28:20) ‘Ish Emunos Rav Brachos--a trustworthy man will have many blessings.  We may also interpret this to mean that one who makes many Brachos is constantly demonstrating and re-demonstrating his Emunah in Hashem, and becomes not only an Ish Emunah but an Ish Emunos.  Chazal teach that a Bracha without ‘Shem U’Malchus’--‘Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam’ is not truly a Bracha.  Thus, each time we recite Hashem Elokeinu--My L-rd, Our G-d in a bracha, we should be careful to recognize the personal relationship that goes to the essence of our Emunah--each and every time we recite a bracha!  



Special Note Four:  We all know that nothing happens ‘coincidentally’, ‘by chance’ or ‘by accident.’  In fact, a reader pointed out to us that there is no word in Lashon HaKodesh which means ‘accident.’  The current word in modern Hebrew for accident, ‘Te’una’, is found in Tehillim 91:10, and is translated there as 'befall', 'occur' or 'come upon' (see Metsudos and Malbim there).  Throughout our day, especially in these turbulent times (as Chabakuk taught--Vetzadik B'Emunaso Yichye'), we must be careful to recognize and aver that everything, every single thing, is really and truly an act of Hashem.  It would appear than that for one to say that he 'bumped into’ or ‘happened to meet’ someone, or that 'by chance' (in modern Hebrew--'bemikre') someone called or said something, or that ‘your timing is great’ or 'how could he have said that about me' --even if not at all meant to derogate one's belief is nevertheless inappropriate and contradictory to the Ani Maamins that we recite daily.  Care in our speech means care in our thoughts--and we are a much, much better person--with a closer personal relationship to Hashem--because of it!



IMPORTANT!  Project Inspire’s ground-breaking new 7-minute video, iProd, written and directed by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon and produced by Tsvika Tal is a masterful, eye-opening and powerful production which brilliantly takes us through a situation we all encounter at least once and, indeed, many times in our lives.   We highly recommend that you view it with the following link:  http://www.kiruv.com/forYourInspiration/movies/iprod.asp



Special Note One:  We continue with our move this week towards a greater Kavannah in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei.  The Sefer Ali Shur (Vol. 1 , p. 123) by HaRav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl brings the teachings of the Sefer Yaaros D’vash (HaRav Yonasan Eibeshutz, Z’tl) on the brachos of Shemone Esrei. HaRav Eibeshutz teaches that the first bracha should arouse us to emulate Avrohom Avinu (after whom the bracha is named--Magen Avrohom), who recognized that Hashem is the one and only HaKail HaGadol HaGibor VehaNora--and spread this awareness by his actions and words to others.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah by Rabbi Meyer Birnbaum, Shlita explains further that HaKail refers to Hashem’s All-Powerful Mercy, HaGadol refers to His Greatness in Acts of Chesed, HaGibor refers to the incomparable power of His Judgment (we need only quiver or tremble for a moment at the recent volcano or tornado events and their aftermath), and HaNora teaches that Only Hashem is to be feared for his Awesome Power, for no other creature or creation has any power to act without Hashem’s express permission.  Then, when we conclude the bracha with the words Magen Avrohom--to indicate that Hashem shielded Avrohom from so many dangers--and will shield us, his descendants as well--let us have the proper Kavannah--oh how we need it now!



Special Note Two:  The Sefer Nesiv Chaim writes that when one performs a Mitzvah in the guise of Mitzvas Anashim Melumada--out of habit or rote, he cannot possibly fulfill the basic tenets of Mitzvah performance--which primarily include fulfilling the Mitzvah in as complete a manner as is possible, and fulfilling a Mitzvah out of true joy.  It is for this reason, the Nesiv Chaim continues, that a Mitzvah performed out of rote can not even be considered, it does not even reach the level of, a Mitzvah She’lo Lishma!  Accordingly, he urges that we weed out perfunctory Mitzvah performance--remarkably adding that if one does not feel the proper joy when performing a Mitzvah--how can he express the proper charata--true remorse and real Teshuva when he fails in its performance?!   After all, feelings cannot simply be created one way without a proper true and positive feeling the other way--an appreciation and endearment for each item of Royal Treasure that may come into our possession.  The Chofetz Chaim brings the words of Mishlei (13:7): “Yesh...Misroshesh Vehon Rav... there can be one who is ostensibly impoverished--but has great wealth.”  He explains that if one has sinned many times--and succeeds in turning the sins around with proper feelings of Teshuva--than he takes all of that poverty, all of those sins, and turns each one of them into a separate and distinct Mitzvas Aseh of Teshuva--a very great wealth.  For us to get there, we must begin by first blighting the scourge of Mitzvas Anashim Melumadah that we experience on a daily basis--which not only so sorely damage the Mitzvah itself--but make the Teshuva process all the more difficult.  Let us begin somewhere, by identifying at least one such daily Melumadah act, and working on a project of improvement.  If you need somewhere to begin, may we suggest placing new energy and zeal into Tefillas Mincha, or perhaps stopping for a moment before making a bracha to appreciate the privilege, or perhaps helping someone out when permeated with a feeling of Ahavas Yisroel.  We don’t necessarily need hours of preparation to perform our Mitzvos--we need moments of thought and caring!



Special Note Three:  As we are now two weeks away from KABALAS HATORAH, we provide the following important points:


a.  Chazal (Shabbos 31A) teach that one of the first questions a person will be asked after 120 years is whether “Kavata Itim L’Torah--Did you have designated times for Torah study daily?”  The Levush (Yoreh Deah 246:1) writes that by usage of the plural “Itim”--times, Chazal are teaching that we must set aside some Torah study time by day **and** by night (i.e., at least  a few minutes immediately after Ma’ariv, or before going to bed).  In this regard, the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 2, Page 304) brings from other noted sources that during these designated times for Torah study, one should view himself as not being in Olam Hazeh, but rather in Gan Eden before the Shechina.  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapters 155 and 238 on this vital topic.


b.  The Sefer Pele Yoetz (under the heading “Kesiva”) teaches that a person should physically write down nuances that he discovers in his Torah study--whether big or small--for through writing he brings  the Torah in a demonstrable way into this world, and it is as if he actually taught Torah “to the multitudes.”  Perhaps one can keep his own notebook, and over time marvel at how much he actually accomplished!


c.  When studying, one should feel the sublime joy of the opportunity to study Torah, as well as the joy of the study itself.  One of our readers once reported that he recalled as a young boy in The Bronx how his Rav, a Talmud Chacham from Europe , always seemed to be dancing as he recited the Birchos HaTorah when he received an Aliyah.  Along with the joy, one should also feel and appreciate the sweetness of Torah.  As we pray **every day** as part of our Brocha over the Torah, “V’Haarev Na…”--please, Hashem, sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouth and in the mouth of Your people--for this, too, is an essential aspect of growth in Torah.


d.  The Zohar (Parshas Vayashev) writes that if someone puts in the effort to study Torah in this world, even if he does not understand or remember what he learned, he will have the knowledge and understanding that he strived for in this world--but also in a more important world--Olam Haba.  As we recite when we complete our day of study, or when we complete a particular tractate or portion of Torah: “For they toil and we toil--they toil and do not receive reward (i.e., they may not see the fruits of their labor), but we toil and [definitely] receive reward.”  In other words, there is no such thing as a “failed business venture” or an “unsuccessful business project” in Torah--there is only success!



Special Note One:  A reader excitedly recommended a new Torah project to our readers:  “There is a truly amazing Chazara system for Gemara/Mishnayos/Rambam with shiurim - at www.mastertorah.com  “  Hakhel Note:  It is a truly amazing site!

Special Note Two:  In furtherance and amplification of Rabbi Lonner’s insight--having special Kavanna in one Bracha of Shemone Esrei per week over the next 19 weeks until Rosh Hashana--beginning with the first Bracha of Avos this week--we provide the following reminder as to the distinction between “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).  By recognizing and realizing that Hashem helps, saves and shields--we, very much unlike contemporary world leaders, will recognize and feel Hashem’s protection over us in all situations and circumstances!



Special Note Three:  In respect of yesterday’s Note on shaving, the following is from Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita:  “As Rav Blumenkrantz, Z’tl, wrote that according to other Poskim, all shavers are Halachically equivalent to a razor (and cannot be made ‘kosher’) if they do not leave facial hair long enough to fold over to the root and form a loop or, according to others, long enough to grab with the nails (no shavers leave hair that long).  Poskim of this opinion (according to whom all shavers are prohibited and cannot be made ‘kosher’) include the Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, the Steipler Gaon, Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, the Minchas Yitzchok, Rav Elozor Menachem Man Schach, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky--Z’tl, and, among other contemporary Poskim, Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, Rav A.L. Steinman, Rav Nissim Karelitz, Rav Moshe Sternbuch-- Shlita, and many, many others.  [The Chofetz Chaim forbade even the hand clippers used in his time which did not cut anywhere as close as today’s shaving machines, as the Minchas Yitzchok, Z’tl, and Rav Elyashiv, Shlita attest].”


Hakhel Note:  Once again, a person must consult with his Rav or Posek on this serious issue.  There are potentially five negative prohibition violated in one prohibited act of shaving, and accordingly everyone should give this matter the real attention that it deserves.



Special Note Four:  The Chofetz Chaim notes that in our personal Bakashos at the end of Shemone Esrei, we first ask for ‘Netzor Lishoni MaiRah--guard my tongue from evil’, and only afterwards do we ask of Hashem ‘P’sach Libi BeSorasecha--open my heart to Torah.’  He powerfully writes that this is to teach us that unless we guard our tongues from improper speech, ‘Ain HaTorah Nechsheves LeChlum’--our Torah study is not considered as if it is anything (!) [Yes, this is a quote!]  With this shocking principle, he explains a famous Pasuk in Mishlei (24:30):  “Al S’dei Ish Atzel Avarti VeAl Kerem Adom Chasar Lev--by the fields of a lazy man I passed and by the vineyard of a man without sense….”  What Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, intends to teach us, writes the Chofetz Chaim, is that there are two types of people.  There is a lazy person who does not set his goal as acquiring Torah and Ma’asim Tovim, or even if he does learn from time-to-time, he forgets what he learns by letting it get away.  The second type of person, however, is not lazy, but is a Chasar Lev-- he has acquired Torah U’Ma’asim Tovim, but, as the next Pasuk continues, he has allowed ‘thorns and thistles’ to grow over them.  What are these ‘thorns and thistles’?  They consist of forbidden speech which literally cover over the Torah and Kedusha that had previously been spoken, and bring a Ruach HaTumah upon his previously holy words.  HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, (Koveitz Shiurim to Kesuvos 62B) compares one whose mouth has spoken dibburim issurim to a knife upon which rust has settled.  It is not just unsightly--it simply does not have the ability to serve its purpose--it can’t cut!


The Chofetz Chaim takes it a step further.  He brings the words of the Zohar in Parshas Pikudei as follows:  “In the Heavens above there are ruchos hatumah which grab on to the speech of one who has first spoken improperly, and who then speaks Dibburim Kedoshim.  Woe onto such a person in this world and in the next world, because those ruchos hatumah take his improper speech and place it directly over his words of Kedusha, thereby sullying the words of Kedusha, rendering them tomeh.  These words of the Chofetz Chaim, and the Zohar he quotes, should move us sufficiently to attempt to improve in some real way in our Shemiras HaDibbur.  Most certainly, when reciting the words ‘Netzor Lishoni MaiRah’ after every Shemone Esrei, we should recognize that it is a planned and specific precursor  and precondition to ‘P’sach Libi BeSorasecha’--and so when reciting these words we should be pleading with Hashem to guide our tongue in the direction of sweetness and holiness.  The Ba’alei HaMussar additionally explain that the best way to do Teshuva for having sinned in the past in an area is to study its laws in order to prevent the sin from happening again.


TODAY is the day that we begin the last cycle of the year 5771 in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim (Shemiras HaLashon Yomi).  For those who have not yet studied Shemiras HaLashon daily this year, it is certainly the day to begin.  For those who are already studying, it is a day of renewal and growth--of betterment in some qualitative way in the study of how literally one brings untainted and pristine Kedusha into one’s live--in this world and the next.  We will soon be at the milestone of Shavuos in which we will rededicate ourselves to Torah (the ‘P’sach Libi BeSorasecha’).  We must now undertake the prerequisite of Netzor Lishoni MaiRah in order to empower the Kedusha to come.  Today is the day--improve yourself in the study of Shemiras HaLashon--purify yourself and your Torah! 


Many questions may come up in the proper practice of Shemiras HaLashon, we once again urge and recommend your free usage of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline, where expert Poskim in Shemiras HaLashon answer your real life questions relating to Shidduchim, business matters, and personal relationships.  The Hotline number is 718-951-3696, and the hours are 9:00 to 10:30 PM EST; It is also available in the event of an emergency Shailah during off-hours by leaving a message.  Remember--bring yourself from Netzor Lishoni MaiRah to P’sach Libi BeSorasecha!



Special Note One:  We are only a little more than two weeks away from the date of Kabalas HaTorah. By this time, everyone should be taking strides in preparation for the Great Event.  We hope to devote some time and effort to this extremely important topic over the next two weeks.  To begin, may we propose the following thoughts for your contemplation…and action, all of which will be bli neder: 


a.  Undertaking to learn Chumash with Rashi on the Parsha.  This week begins Sefer Bamidbar--a wonderful time to begin this project, for that is where our Torah study began as well!


b.  Attempting to memorize a Mishna a day, six days a week, with Chazara on Shabbos.  Over the course of a year (i.e., a year from today) you will know 300 Mishnayos by heart!  Imagine how much Torah study you can gain by reviewing the Mishnayos you have committed to memory, at events, in situations, and in places where you do not have a Sefer, do not have light, are walking by yourself (whether or not you have a cell phone!)--and to those who know you, think of how inspirational it will be to them as well!  If you are a woman, or if you are a man to whom the task appears too difficult at this time, may we suggest as an alternative, paying someone to learn all of Mishnayos in your Zechus.  We believe that you may have several options here.  One is Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, which can be contacted at www.chevrahlomdeimishnah.org.  Another is Keren Ner Tomid of Yerushalayim which performs this special service (learning Shisha Sidrei Mishne as a Zechus for you (or for a relative or loved one)) for $600.00, and which may be paid in installments.  To contact Keren Ner Tomid by email:   rabbikrohn@kerennertomid.org .  We believe that in addition to the merit of Torah study in this instance, one also merits the support of Torah study--which is an additional method of coming closer to Torah!


c.  Committing to show greater respect to Rabbanim and Talmidei Chachomim by standing up when they are in your proximity; similarly, trying to reshelve Seforim that may be strewn about in Shul, even if you were not responsible for their state.  At home, making sure that Siddurim and Bentchers/ Zemiros books are properly treated and placed in their proper position; and if any Sefer page or binding is ripped, or torn, promptly repairing them with tape that you have handy. 


The above is only a brief and summary listing, but is certainly a start for any of us to get moving with.  We more than welcome your suggestions.  We especially note that the first three words of last week’s Parsha were “Im BeChukosai Teileichu” (Vayikra 26:3).  Chazal (quoted by Rashi) teach that this refers to “walking, moving, in the study of Torah.”  This is our opportunity to demonstrate that we are taking the clear lesson from the Parsha, and that we are on the move to improve in Torah! 



Special Note Two:  Lag BaOmer 5771 having passed, many have once again began shaving.  Accordingly, we provide the following important discussion regarding shavers from The Laws of Pesach: A Digest by Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz, Z’tl, as updated for 5771 by his sons Rabbi Y.Y.  Blumenkrantz, Rabbi A. Blumenkrantz and Rabbi Y.M.  Blumenkrantz).  According to Rabbi Blumenkrantz, Z’tl:


“Shavers, which are permitted as of this date, are: Remington, Micro Flex Remington Micro Flex Rotary Shavers-Models: R-850, R-856, R-860, R-870, R-872, R-875, R-890; Remington Micro Flex Ultra TCT Rotary Shavers -Models: R-9100, R-9200, R-9300, R-9350; Remington Titanium Shavers (Smart Shaver-Model: R-9500, Titanium Micro Flex Ultra-Models: R-9170, R9270, R9370; Titanium Micro Flex- Models: R-960 &R-950) (Please make sure it is not the Remington Micro Screen-this is not good.); Conair (but not the micro screen); Windermere (they are out of business; there may, be some shavers left); Panasonic Rotary Triple Head (not the micro screen); Norelco Double Head Rotary (which is not a lift and cut. Norelco stopped making this shaver but there are some in the market).


A note from the sons of Rabbi Blumenkrantz, Z’tl: Based on a recent conversation with Horav Dovid Feinstein Shlita, he has advised that in his opinion, besides for the ones listed above (old models) there is no widely available shaver that can be purchased and used as is.  In his opinion the only available shaver that is permitted is the Norelco Lift and Cut model shavers, but only after you remove the lifts.  There is a website, www.koshershaver.org  that gives detailed instructions of how to remove the lifts. They also offer a free service to remove the lifts for you.” 


Hakhel Note:  If one has any questions or issues regarding shavers, he should consult with his Rav or Posek as to what is permitted.



Special Note Three:  At the recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, provided an extremely memorable one-word insight into marriage.  He reported that many of his students about to get married ask him for last-minute marital advice.  He answers with one word “Selflessness.”  What a powerful word to remember for a married person--before he/she is about to say or do something--and even more importantly, as a guide for initiative in marriage.  Remember--Selflessness!



Special Note Four:  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (25:15) “VeLashon Rakah Tishbor Garem--and a gently tongue will break a bone.”  Rashi there explains that ‘Lashon Rakah’ refers to Tefillos and Tachanunim, prayers and supplications, which will have the direct effect of ‘Tishbor Garem’, breaking the severity of a decree.  In the wake of recent political comments from an ‘ally’, and as we face a hideous UN vote scheduled to take place in September, let us take the lesson from Shlomo HaMelech and realize that we are being given a special reminder and opportunity for Tefillos and Tachnunim over the summer (or, south of the equator, winter) months ahead.


A reader advised us in the name of Rabbi Shimshon Lonner, Shlita, that there are 19 weeks left until Rosh Hashana.  The number 19, of course, brings to mind the 19 Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  If we would attempt to put special Kavannos into one Bracha a week over the next 19 weeks, we will have infused our Shemone Esrei with special potency and power over this very same period.  This would mean that the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei is this week’s goal.  We refer you to Praying with Fire, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman (Artscroll) or Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll) for an excellent review of this Bracha.  Of course, many other works on Tefillah that you may have at home or handy will assist you with additional thoughts and insights on this Bracha.  Take action!


May our dedication to proper Tefillah not only save us from any pending or impending difficulties or situations--but also, as in the days of Mitzrayim bring us to Geulah--this time Geulah Sheleimah BeMeheirah Veyameinu!



Special Note One:  The Gemach concept is indeed an incomparable one.  The Chofetz Chaim (in Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, Chasimas HaSefer) provides the following powerful points regarding the establishment of a Gemach:


A.  A Gemach that is established by more than one person (such as a loan fund to which many contribute, or the rain coats above which a few people purchase jointly) is a more powerful Mitzvah than a Mitzvah performed by one individual.  The source for this, writes the Chofetz Chaim, is actually the Sifra in this week’s Parsha (10:4), in which Chazal teach that one cannot compare one person or party performing a Mitzvah, to many doing so.  The Chofetz Chaim continues that it appears ‘pashut’ that Hashem will consider each person’s contribution as if he himself was performing the Chesed of the entire Gemach, since without him the Chesed would not have been possible.  See there for further details. 


B.  A mitzvah for which money is spent is much greater, as the Zohar describes in Parshas Teruma. 


C.  A Gemach is at work even when one is sleeping or involved in business.


D.  One should seek Mitzvos which are ‘Kevua LeDoros’--which can continue beyond one’s lifetime into future generations.  If one can accomplish this, continues the Chofetz Chaim then even when ‘he is sitting in Gan Eden’, ‘Yitosef Lo Noam VeOhr Al Nafsho--additional pleasantness and light will be awarded to his soul’ through the Mitzvos taking place through the monies or articles that he had originally provided while in this world.


Take the Chofetz Chaim’s guiding light--and work on establishing a Gemach for your neighborhood, shul or community--with its light to shine upon you for eternity!



Special Note Two:  In response to our question to why older people get white hair, we received the following wonderful insight from Rabbi Boruch Leff, which is actually an excerpt from his book Are You Growing?  We add that the book is available, at a 40% discount by the following link:



“Rav Shalom Schwadron, ztl, the Magid of Yerushalayim would tell the following story.  He once visited a nursing home and saw some old men sitting on the bench arguing about something.  One said, “It was number 24,” while the other countered, “It was not!  It was 25!”  Rav Shalom asked them what they were arguing about and why they were so passionate.  The men told him that they have nothing to do all day so they decided to sit outside and count the buses that go by.  Inevitably, one of them loses count and they begin to argue.  “At least it gives us something to live for, something to get excited about, right rabbi?”

Rav Shalom would tell his audience and conclude, “So, the choice is yours.  Do you want to be counting and arguing about buses when you are older?  Or perhaps you would rather argue with your chavrusa about the Rashi and the Tosafos?  The choices you make today will form what you will become, and how you will want to spend your days when you are retired.”


A famous aphorism states, “Watch your thoughts. Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, and habits become who you are.”


If we don't create good habits when we are young, if we don't train ourselves to value wisdom when we are youthful and vigorous, if we live unsatisfied, unfulfilled lives, we significantly reduce our chances to make the most of the wisdom of old age.  By living meaningfully and wisely now, we will enhance and sharpen our life's purpose as senior citizens.


We all want to get old.  The alternative--dying young--is on nobody’s wish list.  Let us live productively when young, leading to a wise embracing of the aging process.”



Special Note Three:  For a masterful discussion of Lag BaOmer, we refer you to the linked issue of Halachically Speaking To download Volume 7, Issue 5 (Lag B’Omer), please click here Halachically Speaking archives are available at www.thehalacha.com.


Hakhel Note:  In honor of Lag BaOmer, we provide the following Note which has received a very favorable response in past years:


As we reach the Lag BaOmer milestone, we are faced with a perplexing question:  What is really the sudden cause for celebration at this time?  After all, from what we know of our past during the Omer period, 24,000 senior scholars--the students of Rebbe Akiva passed away for not properly respecting each other; even Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the surviving students, eventually passed away on this day; later, the Crusades took their great toll on Ashkenazic Jewry during Sefira; then, the great Posek for Ashkenazim, the Rema passed away on Lag BaOmer, like Rebbe Shimon; and, most recently, much of Hungarian Jewry was hurriedly annihilated during the period from Pesach to Shavuos in 1944--to such an extent that the survivors of Hungarian Jewry who do not know when their relatives or friends were murdered observe the Second Day of Shavuos as their Yahrzeit.  So, what is the joy--the songs, the bonfires, the bows and arrows about?  Why are weddings allowed, and Tachanun not recited?


Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (following the lines of the Gra’s Commentary on Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim, 493) teaches we celebrate that in all events, there were those who remained.  Indeed, the resemblance in all of the aforementioned tragedies is striking: Rebbe Shimon passed his legacy to his students (it is no coincidence that so many other future generations of Tannaim are buried right around Rebbe Shimon in Meron).  Similarly, even after the Crusader massacres killing Rabbeinu Tam and many others in many communities, the Baalei Tosfos flourished for many generations, culminating in the Rosh, and his son, the Tur, as the basis for our Shulchan Aruch; the Rema, rather than being the final word in Halacha for Ashkenazim, became the basis and guide for the scores of future poskim; the remnants of Hungarian Jewry fill the Yeshivas from Bnei Brak to Borough Park.


But it is more than that we are just survivors.  It is the fulfillment of the Posuk (Devorim 32:23): “Chitzai Achaleh Bom”--I will finish my arrows in them--which Chazal (Sotah 9A) explain to mean--my arrows will be finished in them, but they will not be finished.  Hashem has guided us through events, times, places and tragedies of immense proportions, while the other 70 nations of the world disappeared from far less calamitous events.  Perhaps this is the symbol of the bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer--the arrows are done, but we are not.  Why is this so--why has our history--our experience in this world been so different than all other nations?


We suggest that the answer to this, too, brings us to this time of year--it is, once again, not coincidental that all of this is happening as we prepare to receive the Torah--for it **IS THE TORAH** that has made our lives so different and so endurable.  It is the Torah, created well before the world as we know it was created, that has given us the “supernatural” force for us to thrive and survive.  At this special time of year, we should especially demonstrate our recognition of the importance of Torah in our lives and in the lives of K’lal Yisroel.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  For the coming two weeks until Shavuos, in whatever you are learning, whether it is a thought on the Parsha, Daf Yomi, or even a Torah email, think about how important Torah study in our lives.  It is not academics, nor a body of knowledge, but the one part of our life that permeates and invigorates us--and the bonfire that warms and enlightens us every day of our lives.



Special Note Four:  The following is excerpted from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, on this week’s Parsha (p.336):  "and a man shall stumble upon his brother ... " (Vayikra 26:37).  Rashi cites the Sifra which explains this verse thus:  "One shall stumble through the iniquity of another, for all the people of Israel are responsible for each other."  (Sifra; Sanhedrin 27b).  The Chofetz Chaim used to relate the following analogy:  Mr. Cohen loaned Mr. Green a large sum of money.  Mr. Shapiro agreed to guarantee the loan; he would pay Mr. Cohen if Mr. Green will be unable to pay.  If Mr. Green were investing his money in a business that was sure to lose money, Mr. Shapiro would definitely do everything in his power to prevent Mr. Green from becoming involved in that business.  Mr. Shapiro knows that if Mr. Green wastes his money, the obligation to repay the loan will be his.  "The same applies to preventing others from sinning," said the Chofetz Chayim.  "If someone has the ability to stop another person from transgressing and fails to do so, he will ultimately be held liable for that offense.  Therefore, we must do everything we can to prevent transgressions."


Special Note Five:  We continue our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series: 


A.  We would like to remind our readers of a suggestion that we provided a while ago.  That is, on every Erev Shabbos to Daven to Hashem that you will not be Mechalel Shabbos in any manner, including BeShogeg and BeOness.


B.  For those who inquired, the Sefer Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa (12:16) writes that one is allowed to leave the strainer at the bottom of his sink on Shabbos, and there is no problem of Borer, because everything is really p’soles that is going into the sink--it is only that one does not want the larger pieces of p’soles to clog up the drain upon entering.  Borer is separating p’soles from ochel--and not p’soles from p’soles.


C.  Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. The following is a portion of them, BE”H bli neder we will post more of the questions and answers in the coming weeks.  If anyone has any further follow-up questions regarding the answers, he should contact his own Rav for there may be another opinion, or contact Rabbi Webster at 718-259-2063.


Questions 1-15 were covered last week.  We now continue with questions 16-20.  One reader commented that relating to last week’s questions, we should have provided the Tenaim of Chazara.  We leave this for each individual’s review.


16. Before I went to sleep I took the cover off the cholent to check it.  Am I permitted to re-cover it?

Only if it is completely cooked.  Hagoan Harav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L held that one should not recover the pot while it is area A of the blech (over the fire).  Other poskim are of the opinion that it is permissible to recover the pot as long as the food is completely cooked.


17. Why with respect to a solid food do we say בישול אחר בישול אין, while regarding a liquid we say בישול אחר בישול יש?

    Because in a solid, the food is changed from a raw state to a cooked state.  However, in liquids, the purpose of the cooking process is not to change the quality of the food as with a solid, but simply to heat up the liquid--so one will be able to drink the liquid while it is hot.  Therefore, when the liquid cools off, it is considered as if one is cooking it again for the first time.


18. If a liquid is cooked to yad soledes bo, is one allowed to put it into a place where it will become boiled?

    There is a dispute among the Poskim, according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L it is permissible, the Eglai Tal and others held that it is prohibited .


19. Since we are of the opinion that בישול אחר בישול  אין in a solid, is one permitted to place it on the blech on Shabbos?

     No, due to the prohibition of chazarah.


20. Is one permitted to take boiled chicken and reheat it on top of a cholent pot?



Special Note Six:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn in the Tochacha that much punishment comes from our failure to observe the Shemitta.  Rabbi Refoel Shain, Shlita, asks a pointed question:  The Shemitta year applies to people who work the earth.  What about all of the non-farmers?  Don’t they continue to do business the entire Shemitta year?  If so, how do they glean the lessons of Kedusha and Emunah so inherent in Shemitta’s observance?  Fascinatingly, he explains that because Shabbos occurs once every seven days, every day of his Shabbos observance will add up to an entire Shemitta year after seven years.  The land, however, continues to ‘work on Shabbos’, as plants and trees continue to grow, and so the Shemitta year is needed to ‘catch-up.’  Furthermore, the fiftieth year of Yovel can be understood as comparable to the aggregate of 50 years of seven days of Yom Tov (two days of Pesach, one day of Shavuos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, and Shemini Atzeres) that the non-farmer observes every year, which the land does not, so that over the 50 years through Yovel--one has observed a year of Yamim Tovim--which the land has not.  Accordingly, in the Yovel, the land has its turn! 


We as ‘businessmen’ (non-farmers) who are not working on the land of Eretz Yisroel should learn to appreciate the power and potency of each day of Shabbos and Yom Tov--our personalized portion of a Shemitta year--and inhale its Kedusha and Emunah to take us through…until the next Shabbos or Yom Tov!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Why is it that when a person gets older, his hair starts turning white?  After all, white symbolizes purity, as evidenced by the white garments of the Kohein Gadol on Yom Kippur, and the fact that the red string that was tied on to entrance the Heichal on Yom Kippur turned white to demonstrate that the people’s sins were forgiven (Yoma 6:8).  It would thus seem more appropriate for children, who are so much closer to purity to have white hair, which then would become darker as one ages, as a symbol that the person is sullying himself with sin.  Why does it move in the reverse direction?  Hakhel note:  This is, of course, a rhetorical question.  If you do not know or appreciate the answer, we suggest as an immediate undertaking the study of either the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim or the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva!



Special Note One:  A postscript to our Notes on Ona’as Devarim:  It is certainly no coincidence, as it never is, that the new cycle of Positive Word Power (Artscroll/ Mesorah), which is the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s monumental and incomparable English work on Ona’as Devarim, will be starting its new daily cycle soon, on Rosh Chodesh Sivan.  This most important work is a realistic, meaningful, and effective tool to help rid Ona’as Devarim from one’s daily life.  Each short daily lesson concludes with something practical to work on.  If you are already learning the daily cycle, may we strongly urge reviewing it another time in the next cycle?  If you have not yet undertaken this wonderful daily program, we highly urge you to do so--for this is something, whether or not you may realize it , affects everyone in their daily lives--and affects even more those with whom they come in contact!  Your undertaking of this important project most certainly indicates your desire to improve in this very crucial part of daily life.  Even if you are pretty good, and only need a little improvement--why not do this Mitzvah extremely well?



Special Note Two:  A reader provided us with the following remarkable story which he had read:  “HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Z’tl, had to have a particular surgery.  He inquired as to a top surgeon in the field, met with him, and then scheduled the surgery for about a month later when the surgeon had a free slot.  The time came, and Rav Gifter was at last being taken into surgery.  Rav Gifter asked the doctor to pray that the surgery would go well.  “Rabbi”, the doctor responded, “you have nothing to worry about--I am top in my field!”  Upon hearing these words, Rabbi Gifter advised that he would no longer would be going through with the surgery at that time.  Instead, he found another doctor, perhaps not as famous, but who realized that health and sickness, life and all that is to it--is in G-d’s anthropomorphic hands, and not in those of a skilled mortal.”  Hakhel Note:  All would do well to remember this story--but not only when visiting a doctor.  May we suggest that the next time you recite Shemone Esrei, you move through the Brachos of bakasha--from bracha to bracha--noting all of the action verbs that we recite--asking Hashem several times in each bracha for this act and that act--for it is truly only from Hashem that each and every thing that affects, impacts and improves our daily lives comes!  Every time we daven, we should recognize and grow from the strong Emunah in Hashem we are asserting, as we plead for his active guidance, direction and action.  All we have to do is read, say, understand and feel the plain and powerful meaning of our daily Tefillos!



Special Note Three:  According to the Luach Dovor B’Ito, today is the transition day between Bnei Yisroel finishing Matzah they had brought along from Mitzraim, and tomorrow, 16 Iyar, is the day that the Mann began to fall (see, however, Rashi to Shemos 16:35), in which Rashi appears to write that the Mann began to fall today), it is these day that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the first Brocha of Birchas HaMazon, the Brocha of Hazon Es HaOlam.  The Luach therefore urges that this Brocha be recited with a special Kavannah at this time.


Hakhel Note: At a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, made the following incredible point.  How could it be that millions of people actually finished the Matzah that they had brought with them from Mitzraim on the exact same day?  After all, did not some families have more, some have less?  Were not some families larger, and some families smaller?  Did not some families have mostly adults, and others mostly small children?


HaRav Belsky answered with a remarkable teaching.  In fact, there were families that had finished their Matzah days ago, and others that had finished it even weeks ago.  However, those with Matzah remaining shared it willingly and even happily with their neighbors.  Only when all of this shared Matzah was completely consumed, was there a need for the Mann.  In fact, perhaps the Mann came only because Hashem recognized and acknowledged the chesed of His people, and “shared” with us effusively from His special bounty as well.  Let us take this lesson and enthusiastically apply it by trying to help someone else today with their Parnassah or their needs.  After all, in the end…it is all Mann!



Special Note Four:  Chazal (Bava Basra 10A) teach that ‘Kol Ha’Maalim Einav Min Hatzedaka Ke’Ilu Ovaid Avodah Zarah--if someone hides his eyes from giving charity, it is as if he worships idols(!).’  HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, provides a great and penetrating insight here.  When one turns to Avodah Zarah, he believes that the getchka will help him out of his situation or predicament--but instead finds that his energies were misdirected and wasted. Thus, rather than the perceived good that would come out of his effort, it is in fact real ra, bad, that results.  He has no yeshua in hand, and has given of his life in a wasted effort. So, too, when one avoids a tzedaka collector or collection, a gabbai, an appeal or a campaign--and it is because he simply can’t give to anyone and everyone and deplete his resources in this way--he should understand that while he may think that he is engaged in asset preservation and cash management, in fact he is not using his money wisely--in a good way. The rule to follow in charity distribution is “Melach mammon--chosair...if you want to preserve your money, then give it those in need--for you have then made an everlasting deposit into an eternal account--never subject to market fluctuations, bankruptcies, debt collection, theft or other loss.  The more you give--the more you collect!



Special Note One:  Today is Pesach Sheni. HaRav Yaakov Tzvi Emden, Z’TL (“the Yaavetz”) writes in his Siddur that:


“It was revealed to me from Heaven why Pesach Sheni was established on the 14th day of Iyar.  After all, it would not require more than two weeks for anyone who was impure or too far away on Pesach itself to come to Yerushalayim and bring the Pesach Sheni.  So, why wait a month from the 14th of Nissan to the 14th of Iyar--the Pesach Sheni could have already been brought by Rosh Chodesh Iyar?!”  The reason given to HaRav Emden from Heaven was that Bnei Yisroel had sufficient Matzos to last from the time of our Exodus from Mitzraim for 30 days--until the night of the 15th of Iyar!  In other words, the Exodus, and all of the Kedusha that came along with it, actually lasted for a full month after the night of Makkas Bechoros and our gathering to leave the next morning.  The holiness that extended from Yetzias Mitzraim, then, extended until today’s special day!


The Torah teaches (Bamidbar 9:10) that the actual Korban Pesach Sheni is brought when a person cannot bring the Korban Pesach in its proper time--either because, for example, he was rendered impure, or because he was too far away from the Courtyard of the Bais HaMikdash at the time the original Pesach offering was to be brought.  The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes that a great lesson of  Pesach Sheni is that it teaches us that it is never too late, and it is always possible, to “Remove your Tumah”--shed your impurity, and to come closer to Hashem after “Having been too far away”.  Accordingly, Pesach Sheni is a time of reflection and Teshuva.  We should take some time out to properly utilize the opportunity of the day.


One final point on Pesach Sheni: there is a difference in custom as to if and when one eats Matzah today.  According to one opinion, one should not eat Matzah, for it may appear as if he is attempting to fulfill the Mitzvah of Matzah in an improper time, which is a violation of the Torah’s prohibition against adding onto the 613 Mitzvos.  Others have the custom to eat Matzah sometime during the day on the 14th, to remember that the Korbon Pesach Sheni was brought today.  A third opinion is to eat the Matzah tonight, i.e., the night of the 15th of Iyar, for this would be the night that the Korban Pesach Sheni was eaten together with Matzah and Marror.  Every person should follow his custom, or his Rav’s guidance, in this area.



Special Note Two:  Today is also the Yahrtzeit of the Great Tanna, Rebbe Meir (also known as Rebbe Meir Ba’al Haness).  There are those who have the custom of putting money in the Pushka L’Ilui Nishmaso, and reciting “Aloka D’Meir Anaini” three times.


There are specific Tefillos which are attributed to the Chasam Sofer relating to good health, blessing and success; success in one’s business dealings and locating lost items which one may recite any time during the year when placing money into a Pushka L’Ilui Nishmas Rebbe Meir.  To obtain copies of these tefillos, one can contact the Rebbe Meir Ba’al Haness Kolel Shomrei Hachomos office near you.  They may also be found on the back of Pushkas distributed by Kolel Shomrei Hachomos.


May the Zechuyos of Rebbe Meir always stand in our stead!



Special Note Three:  Over the last two days, we have focused on Ona’as Devarim, how serious and pervasive it is, and how important it is to avoid its commission at all times for the Torah Jew.  Today, we will conclude with a review of the attitude and approach of the person against whom Ona’as Devarim was committed.  Of course, details as to any particular situation should be discussed with one’s Rav or Posek:


1.  The following is taken from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (p. 330):  “You do not violate the commandment against Ona’as Devarim if you reply to an insult directed at you.  The Torah does not obligate a person to be as unfeeling as a stone.  Usually, however, a person who is careful not to insult or vex others will not be insulted by others.  If you remained silent and swallowed the insult without replying immediately, you are forbidden to insult the person who insulted you at a later time when you have already calmed down (Chofetz Chaim, Introduction, B’air Mayim Chayim, 8-9).”


2.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (17:9) “Michaseh Pesha Mivakeish Ahava…he who conceals transgression seeks love, but he who harps on a matter alienates Hashem.”  Rashi (ibid.) explains that if one man sins against another, and the hurt party covers it over and does not mention it, and does not show him an angry face, then it will bring love between the two parties; however, he who bears a grudge will bring further alienation to the already hurt relationship.  A bit further in Mishlei, we learn:  “Sechel Adam He’Erich Apo …it is good sense for a man to be slow to anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression ( 19:11 ).”  Once again, Shlomo HaMelech is teaching us to avoid the initial reaction to hurt back with a direct, sometimes caustic (or even worse) response, and instead quell one’s feelings in order to rebuild, rather than destroy the relationship.


3.  With this in mind, we come to a real understanding of words that we recite at the end of Shemone Esrei three times daily:  “Velimkalilai Nafshi Sidom--and to those who curse me, may my soul be silent.”  HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll, p.537) explains these important words as follows:  “This means, may I remain calm and silent as the dust of the earth, in the face of my tormentors.  I pray that I shall not react if I am cursed or tormented.”


Someone once insulted a very pious person.  The community wanted to put a ban on the man, but the pious person would not hear of it.  “We must punish that man, not merely for your sake,” the pious person was told, “but to preventing the insulting of others.”  “On the contrary!” exclaimed the pious person.  “Let people learn from me not to let insults bother them.”  (Sefer Chasidim 183, as published in Love Your Neighbor (ibid.)). 


4.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 2) by HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, provides the following powerful instruction:  “…a person should recall his sins and desire purification…asking himself: “Which type of suffering is the best in the world and will not distract me from Avodas Hashem?  Surely, there is no better than these--to be shamed and insulted, for these will not weaken a person’s strength or his vitality by illness, nor will they rob him of his food and clothing, nor of his life or his children’s lives.  Hence, a person should actually desire this form of suffering, saying to himself:  “Why would I fast and torment myself with other afflictions, which weaken my strength for Avodas Hashem?  It is far better for me to be afflicted with shame and insult, as my strength will not depart or weaken.  Thus, when insults are meted out to him, he should rejoice in them.  Contrary to the typical reaction to them, he should desire them.”


A disciple of Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl, related, “I once saw Rav Chatzkel in a state of extreme happiness, and asked him for the reason.”  “Someone greatly insulted me today, and I didn’t say anything in return.  For this I am joyful,” replied Rav Chatzkel (Marbitzai Torah U’Mussar, Vol. 4, p.212, as published in Love Your Neighbor (ibid.)).


5.  One should recognize that although the hurtful words may be misdirected and even absolutely false, everything that happens in our lives occurs by Hashgacha Pratis, and is for us to learn from.  Is there anything from the specific tactless, unkind, or spiteful words that I can learn from or grow from?  Is there anything along the lines that he is claiming that I can do better in, even if it is not as exaggerated as he claims? 


6.  When hearing someone rant at you or another out of anger, one should immediately make a mental note of the horrors of Ka’as.


7.  In spite of the Ka’as, after someone experiences a rant, harangue, tirade, or even ‘just’ a few biting words, he would do well to remember three words: “Dan Lechaf Zechus.”  Who knows what the person venting has gone through, or is going through right now.  Only Hashem knows.  Furthermore, you can attribute even the most shocking and coarse behavior against you to a huge mistake or misconception on his part. He may have simply heard something much different than what was said, and took it all wrong.  Accordingly, what he has done to you may not be right, but it may be more of a misunderstanding than an act of malice. 


8.  One must certainly take the experience against himself as a lesson not to hurt, upset, or embarrass others, even if it is in the privacy of one’s own home or office, and the two of you are the only people there.


9.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that one should avoid the company of Ba’alei Lashon Hara--those who are want to speak Lashon Hara, at all costs.  One should likewise avoid the company of those who as a matter of course allow unkind, spiteful, or tactless words to spew forth from them.  By consciously avoiding this kind of person, one constantly reminds himself to utilize his power of speech for more positive purposes and goals.  If one constantly finds himself subject to verbal or mental abuse heaped upon him by a close family member, boss, or the like (i.e., someone who cannot be avoided), he should seek guidance from his Rav or Posek as to how to proceed.  Moreover, as noted at the outset of this Note, one should consult with his Rav or Posek in any particular situation that occurred or may occur, as it may be appropriate not to remain silent, but to respond to the one committing Ona’as Devarim--so that he will know of your hurt, and so that both of you can grow from the experience. 


10.  Ona’as Devarim, of course, applies not only in person, but also over the phone, and by email as well.  A reader advised us that he received an email from someone on ‘the other side of a transaction’ who wrote to him that his actions were ‘shameful and disgraceful, and that he should read the Iggeres HaRamban.’  The reader noted that the Iggeres HaRamban tells one to avoid anger in all circumstances, and anger is what the writer himself was expressing!  We may add that just as words can never be retracted, so too, emails that have been sent (even if they are ‘recalled’) can never be taken back.  In a sense, emails are even worse--for the hurt party can review the hurtful words in print time and time again.  Accordingly, one should overcome his nature and not read and reread an offensive letter or email--but, rather discard it.  Moreover, the act of disposing of it will remind a person not to mentally harp on it either.  Conversely, then, when sending an email which in any manner may touch upon Ona’as Devarim, one should read it two or three times before pressing the ‘send’ button. 


11.  Every night before going to sleep as part of Kriyas Shema Al HaMita, we state: “Hareini Mochel Lechol Mi…I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me--whether against my body, my property, my honor, or against anything of mine; whether he did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly, or purposely; whether through speech deed, thought or notion…”  (translation courtesy of Artscroll Siddur).  We must recognize that these precious words every night are not mere lip service, but are so important that they are among the final words we state every day.  We must mean what we say, and if we have specific people or events in mind, then it is all the better!  In the Zechus of our forgiving and forgetting, may the Heavenly Court do likewise for us, and for all of K’lal Yisroel! 



We continue with Part II in our series on onaas devarim.  Once again, our power of speech is used during all of our waking hours, and not only in one, two, or even three parts of the day.  It is, therefore, imperative for us to take the Torah’s strong lessons in this area and enhance (or if necessary, change our ways). 


Today’s bulletin has been adapted from the Bais HaVaad weekly Journal of Talmudic Law and has been reprinted with permission from the author Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern Shlit”a.  It is an outstanding and moving review of the Halachos and Hashkafos of onaas devarim. 


To sign-up to receive the Bais HaVaad’s exceptional weekly email Journal, please email subscribe@BaisHaVaad.com or visit http://www.baishavaad.com/journal/


Onaas Devarim-  Words that Hurt


 It is unimaginable for any G-d fearing Jew to earn a living by cheating (onaas mamom).  However in our daily lives, we may be transgressing a more severe prohibition than cheating - onaas devarim.  Chazal say that onaas devarim is more severe than onaas mammon because:

a)   a person feels more distressed when his feelings are hurt and

b)    money earned dishonestly can be returned, however, hurt feelings cannot be undone (Bava Metzia 58b).

When we speak about prohibited speech, the first thing that comes to our minds is lashon hara.  Although many of us are aware of the severity of speaking lashon hara, there seems to be a lack of awareness of both the scope and severity of the prohibition of onaas devarim.

General Principles


The Torah commands us "Lo sonu ish es amiso," - do not aggrieve one another (Vayikra 25:17).  Chaza"l explain this to be a prohibition against causing pain or anguish to another with words, hence the term "onaas devarim."  Nevertheless, this issur is not limited to words, hurting another's feelings in writing or with a gesture is also included in this prohibition (Chafetz Chaim,Chovas Hashemira ; Shulchan Aruch Hagra"z, Hilchos Ona'a)  There is a famous homiletic saying on the passuk, "Ki ve'apam hargu ish,"(literally, "in their anger they killed a person", Bereishis 49:6) with a mere "twist of the nose (af)," one can kill a person.


One does not have to give another person "a devastating blow" to transgress the prohibition of onaas devarim.  The Chazon Ish writes that onaas devarim applies even if the other's feelings were only momentarily hurt (Letters, Vol. 1 #211).  For example, if a person was distracted immediately after being hurt and does not feel the discomfort or emotional pain anymore.  This applies especially with children, who may be easily distracted and then forget their previous distress.


The prohibition applies even when no one else is present, and applies even in the privacy of your home between husband and wife or parents and children (Shaarei TeShuva 3:214, Chafetz Chaim, P'Sicha, Prohibition # 13).


Embarrassing another or hurting another's feelings in the presence of two other people is a more severe aveira, as it also includes the prohibition of malbin pnei chaveiro be'rabim, shaming another person in public.




One transgresses the issur of onaas devarim even if he had no intention of hurting the other's feelings (Chovas Hashemira in Maalas Hashemira #4).  


At times, when one hurts another's feelings, he will rationalize that the other person is too sensitive and should really not have been insulted by such an "innocent" remark.  Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz proves from Chazal that this is an erroneous assumption.  He explains that transgressing a mitzvah bein adam lachaveiro is like a raging fire.  Just as a forest fire consumes anything in its path even if lit unintentionally, so too, one is held responsible even for unintentional onaas devarim (Sichos Mussar, p, 328, 447).  Thus, before speaking, one must think one step ahead and consider in advance whether his remarks could cause another person any pain.


Once, when Rav Moshe Feinstein's young grandchild was playing with some friends, he saw his grandfather pass by and immediately ran to him.  Rav Moshe kissed his grandchild and then also kissed the other children, so as not to hurt their feelings. (Bastion of Faith, p.16)




The prohibition of onaas devarim applies even to ketanim, minors, including one's own children (Sefer Hachinuch, mitzvah 338).  Hurting a child's feelings is even more stringent, since a child cannot be mochel (forgive) until he reaches bar/bas mitzvah.  


Unfortunately, many people are lax in this area and, not realizing the severity of what they are doing or saying, treat children as if they have no feelings.  


The Steipeler Rav once showed up unexpectedly at a bar-mitzva.  After wishing the bar-mitzvah boy mazel tov he whispered something in his ear and started to exit.  Although the parents were extremely honored that the Gadol Hador partook in their simcha, the curious father, who was neither a relative nor an acquaintance of the Rav, went to the Rav and asked him why he took off from his precious time to participate in their bar mitzvah celebration. The Steipeler then explained:


During the davening one Rosh Hashanah, there were some children playing outside the Shul.  When they started raising their voices and disrupting the tefillos, I went outside to try and quiet them down.  Upon leaving, I saw your child standing in the corridor and reprimanded him for playing next to the Shul.  With an innocent expression, your child told me that he was merely looking for a sefer and that the children who were making the noise quickly ran away when they saw me approaching.  I then realized that I embarrassed him and hurt his feelings by wrongly accusing him of something he didn't do.  Since he was a katan and I couldn't ask his mechila, I asked him his name, address and birthday so that I would waste no time in asking mechila on his bar-mitzva day.   


Although the Rambam writes (Hilchos Talmud Torah 4:5) that if a student is lax or lazy in his studies the Rebbi can rebuke him with sharp words, (and we can assume that the same applies to a parent rebuking his child), nevertheless, one must determine whether the rebuke is stemming from a sincere desire to improve the child's behavior or whether it is a result of a need to release accumulated tension and anxiety.


Stress causes irritability resulting in the loss of one's patience.  Thus, a Rebbi, teacher or parent may get angry at a student or child and use sharp words of rebuke not for the child's sake, but because he is in a bad mood stemming from lack of sleep, loss of money, quarrelling with a spouse, boss or headmaster.  As soon as the child gets out of hand, he immediately receives a downpour of sharp words, which can also be accompanied by a potch.


 A very thin line separates the legitimate intent from insincere motives.  Rebuking another person requires sensitivity and expertise.  We must all be careful lest chinuch be used as a guise to legitimize bad midos.


Additionally, the Rambam is not referring to rebuking or scolding a student or child in the presence of others causing him unnecessary embarrassment.  (Rav M. Y. Lefkowitz, Darkei Chaim, p.59, see below, Halachos # 8)


Cautious Reactions


Another form of onaas devarim is hurting another's feelings by making a negative remark about an item that the other person purchased, such as saying, "you purchased poor quality merchandise" or "you overpaid."  Even if you are correct, not only are you prohibited from making a negative comment, you must also give compliments and say words of praise (unless the item can still be exchanged or returned).  Although this might seem to be untruthful, the Maharal explains that because the other person feels differently than you do about the item (he finds the item suitable for himself), complimenting is not considered lying, since it is true in the purchaser's eyes (Chidushai Agados, Kesubos 17a).


One can also include in this category appreciating gifts.  Generally speaking, the satisfaction of the giver is proportionate to the reaction of the receiver; and the giver will feel disappointed if he feels that the receiver is not fully satisfied with the item or service he gave.  Thus, when a person receives a gift or a favor from a spouse, child or guest, the immediate reaction should be a warm expression of appreciation and thanks.


What should a husband do if his wife's cake is missing an ingredient, or if the main course is too salty, spicy, oily or slightly burned?  After all, a wife wants to please her husband and values his honest opinion.  Rav Aharon Feldman offers an interesting insight:


Shortly after the marriage of one of his teachers, his wife served him burnt potatoes for supper.  Instead of complaining, he told her "Oh, what a wonderful dish you've made tonight."  His wife was so pleased that she made the same dish each evening for supper.  Although he duly complimented her after each meal, it was becoming more and more difficult for him to eat burnt potatoes.  When her husband saw that there was no way out of the dilemma that he had created for himself, he finally told her, "Let's try something new. One can get tired of anything" (The River, The Kettle and The Bird, p. 49).  One never knows the effort involved in preparing a meal, giving a surprise present or doing a favor, and  showing even the slightest dissatisfaction can cause disappointment and hurt feelings.


Another example of causing discomfort is when someone is eager to tell you a good tiding you have already heard.  By letting him know that you are already aware of it you diminish his satisfaction.  Rather, you should respond with joy as if you are hearing it for the first time.  This often occurs when a few different people tell someone about a birth or engagement, each one thinking that he is the first one to report the good news.  The following story illustrates this point.


During the Russian Czarist rule, all young men were conscripted into the army.  Bachurim tried various ways to be exempted because of the devastating religious consequences of serving in the Imperial Army.  Yaakov, a student of the Kovno Rav, Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector, was one such applicant, and each day the Rav waited eagerly to hear the news of his army status.


One day, while the Rav was sitting in beis din, the door opened and a young man put his head into the room and exclaimed excitedly, "Yaakov is exempt!"  The Rav breathed a sigh of relief and, with a radiant smile, said "May Hashem bless you with long years and good health for bringing me this wonderful news."


A few minutes later another student opened the door and, not knowing that the Rav had already heard the good news, proceeded to inform him about Yaakov.  "Oh, how wonderful!" exclaimed the Rav, giving the boy the same enthusiastic blessing as he gave the first boy.  Subsequently, four more boys came in at different times with the same news, each one unaware that others had preceded him. Nevertheless, Rav Yitzchak Elchanan smiled at each one and expressed his gratitude for the good news, making each one feel as important as the first (Adapted from The Maggid Speaks, pp 62-3).


The Halachos of Onaas Devarim in Brief


(Based on Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 228: 4-5):


1.  It is prohibited to ask a shopkeeper the price of an item if you have no intention of purchasing it.  This is because it will make the owner feel disappointed when you don't buy it as he thinks you intended to purchase something from him.  Even though today it is common for people to compare prices and asking the price may lead to a future purchase, nevertheless, since we are dealing with a Torah prohibition, if you have no immediate intention of purchasing the product, you should tell the storekeeper that you are asking out of curiosity.  This is especially true if one already purchased an item and goes to another store to see if he overpaid.


(This prohibition can apply even when shopping in a department store if the salesman receives a commission on his sale.)


2.  It is forbidden to remind a person about his or her family's past misdeeds, for example saying to a baal teshuva, "I remember when you (or your parents, siblings, etc.) didn't keep kosher."  This also applies to anything that a person might be ashamed of.  For example, one should not say, "Are you still a compulsive eater?"


This issur also applies within family relationships when a husband or wife  remind the other of a previous grievance even after an apology was made; or when parents remind their children of their previous wrongdoings. Once one spouse forgives the other, or a parent forgives their child, the whole matter should be forgotten.


3.  It is forbidden to call someone by any derogatory name.  Even if he is accustomed to the name, you may not call him by it if your intention is to shame him.  This is termed by Chazal as mechaneh sheim ra lechaveiro and is a more severe issur than onaas devarim (Bava Metzia 58b).  It makes no difference whether the nickname was given because of physical appearance (fat, thin, short, tall, etc.) or whether it is simply a funny-sounding twist to the person's first or last name.  Children who are overheard calling others derogatory names should be taught the severity of the aveira.


An interesting insight about giving names is given by the Chazon Ish, who advised parents not to give their children strange sounding names so that the children will not suffer when they are older (Raboseinu, p.85).


Additionally, there is a special issur not to call someone a slave, mamzer or rasha (Kiddushin 28a).


4.  If someone is suffering, it is prohibited to say "you deserve this for your previous aveiros."  For example, telling someone with a toothache that he is suffering because he spoke lashon hara.


5.  It is forbidden to embarrass someone by asking him a question that he cannot answer.  For example, asking a Chumash teacher to answer a question in halacha.  Likewise, it is prohibited or to ask someone to speak knowing that he's not prepared or is not a speaker.  This is the source of the minhag of interrupting a chasan or bar-mitzva boy from saying his speech.  We interrupt all chasanim and bar-mitzva boys so as not to embarrass the ones who are unprepared or cannot speak well.


6.  Scaring another person, such as hiding behind a door in a dark room and startling him when he enters is forbidden (Choshen Mishpat 420:32).  This includes jokingly scaring someone by telling him false information, such as saying, "Someone stole your bike," or "Your coat (or tape recorder) is missing" (Chofetz Chaim, end of Chovas Hashmira. Withholding another's belongings, even as a joke, is also an issur of stealing, [Choshen Mishpat, 248:1])


It is also quite obvious that all forms of practical jokes are ossur because they usually cause the recipient some type of pain or anguish.  A simple example of this is spilling disappearing ink on someone's clothing, couch or tablecloth.  Another example is if someone asks you where to purchase a certain item and you direct him to a shop that does not sell it, such as sending someone to a bakery when he wants to buy some tools.


7.  There is an additional issur if one hurts the feelings of a widow, orphan or any other unfortunate person, since these people are more sensitive than others.  The Torah writes that Hashem will hear their cries and will respond personally with retribution to those who caused them pain (Shemos 22:21 , Rashi ad. loc.).


8. From the mitzvah of rebuke (tochacha) we learn that hurting another's feelings is assur even for the sake of fulfilling a mitzvah.  It is prohibited to rebuke another person if it cannot be done without embarrassing, insulting or hurting his feelings, such as doing it in public or with harsh words (Erchin 16b; Rambam Hilchos Dayos, 6:8).


Additionally, Rav Chaim Volozhin writes that someone who cannot rebuke gently without hurting the other's feelings is free from the mitzvah of rebuke (Keser Rosh # 143.)


(As in all matters of Halacha, readers should consult their halachic authority regarding practical ramifications.)


The Power of Facial Expressions


The Sefer Yerei'im (5:180) writes that even showing a sad facial expression is a form of onaas devarim.  When I was a child there was a song entitled, "When you smile the whole world smiles with you." The opposite is also true - when a person is sad he is liable to make the people around him sad too.  Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka, once remarked that a person who walks around with a sad expression on his face is likened to a bor birshus harabbim - a pit in a public domain. J ust as a pit causes people to stumble and fall into it, so does a person who projects a sad facial expression cause others to be sad.  On the contrary, people should strive to greet others with a cheerful expression as stated in Pirkei Avos ( 1:15 ).


Rav Yisrael Salanter once saw someone who had a sad expression on his face. Engaging him in conversation in order to try and comfort him, it became clear that all was well in his personal life.  Puzzled, Rav Yisrael asked him, "What then seems to be troubling you?"


"Rebbi," the man replied "don't you know that we are in the Aseres Yemei Teshuva now?  Yom Kippur is only a few days away, and I'm nervous about my upcoming judgment."


"Excuse me," Rav Yisrael replied, "but why do I have to suffer because of your Yom Hadin?"


Rav Avrohom Grodzinsky, the last mashgiach of the Slabodka Yeshiva in Europe , worked on greeting people besaiver panim yafos, with a pleasant and cheerful facial expression, for two years until he mastered this trait.  Even during the last days of the Slabodka Ghetto, when the Jews were being taken away daily to be killed, he would still greet people besaiver panim yafos to uplift their spirits in the last days of their lives (Alei Shur, vol I p. 192).  People claim that it is difficult to smile after a long hard day of working, learning or tending to the children.  However, we observe receptionists, flight attendants and waiters who always seem to give "service with a smile," because their jobs depend on it.  Similarly, if someone were offered twenty-five dollars for every smile he greeted his spouse or child, it would suddenly become a lot easier for him to do so!


Isn't a pleasant, enjoyable evening or a happier child worth the ten-second effort of greeting your family beseiver panim yafos?  We might add that there is nothing better than a smile to promote success and goodwill.  Shalom bais and hatzlacha blossom and bloom when enriched by the rays of a heartwarming smile.


Think Before Speaking!


The Sefer HaChinuch (338) writes that it is not possible to list all the different categories of onaas devarim.  Therefore, a person must refrain from saying or doing anything that even appears to be onaas devarim (safek de'o'raysa le'chumra), and he should realize that Hashem knows his true intentions (cf Rashi Vayikra 25:17).  The Peleh Yoetz advises that when in doubt, one should think, "Would I want another person to say this to me?"  He should apply the halacha of not doing to another what is hateful to yourself.


Just as we are careful with what we put in our mouths insuring that the food has a proper hechsher, we must be equally careful what comes out of our mouths, i.e., not to hurt another's feelings with our words.


We say on Yom Kippur, Ve'al cheit shechatanu lefanecha bevitui sefasayim, "We have sinned with the uttering of our lips."  The Siddur HaGra explains that this phrase with the passuk in Mishlei ( 12:18 ), "One can utter words that are like a piercing sword."


Rav Moshe Aharon Stern compares a mouth to a loaded gun.  Before a person shoots, he is in complete control of the bullet.  It can be aimed harmlessly at a target or into the air.  But once he shoots, he is no longer in control of it, and if it is aimed toward a crowd, it cannot be retracted and will strike anything in its path.  Likewise, before one speaks he is in control of his words.  However once harmful words are uttered, they can do irreparable damage.


Reprinted with permission from the author.


About the author

Rabbi Morgenstern has been active in Jewish education and outreach for over two decades.  He also does family counseling and lectures extensively in Israel and abroad on shalom bayis, chinuch habanim, family communication, shidduchim and personal growth, and has produced a popular CD & series on these topics.  For more information or to schedule a lecture contact Rabbi Morgenstern at: 011-972-8-974-1229, U.S. line: 1-952-236-4197 email rabbi@toras-chaim.org  or visit www.toras-chaim.org  


The Bais HaVa’ad operates out of its centers in Yerushlayim and in Lakewood and acts as a forum serving the Halachic needs of The Klal. The Bais HaVaad is available for Shailos and Halachic Consult during business hours. Shailos are answered the Dayanim and Rabbannim of Kollel Zichron Gershon in Lakewood N.J. and the Bais HaVaad of Yerushalayim. For questions or services please contact The Bais HaVaad at 1.888.485.VAAD(8223) or email info@BaisHaVaad.com



In last week’s Parsha we find the great Mitzvah of “VeLo Sonu Ish Es Amiso” (Vayikra 25:17)…each of you shall not aggrieve his fellow.  Chazal (Bava Metzia 58B) teach that this Pasuk refers specifically to causing pain with words--Ono’as Devorim.  The Mishna and Gemara (ibid.) elaborate on the prohibition against Ono’as Devorim and further details are brought LeHalacha in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 428, which is dedicated to this topic.


Because this is a Mitzvah which is so pervasive--which involves so much of our waking day--we hope to spend the next three days reinvigorating ourselves in this crucial area.  Success in the Mitzvah will literally bring you to a different place in Olam Haba--and Olam Hazeh.  We begin with a Bulletin note previously published, which Baruch Hashem has been very positively received:


The Power of Words, a sefer by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita is dedicated to improvement--and mastery--of this crucial Mitzvas Bain Odom LeChaveiro, which so much impacts on our Bain Odom LeMakom, as well.  Indeed, the Pasuk cited above actually continues “VeYoraisa MaiElokecha--and you shall fear Hashem”--for in properly fulfilling this Mitzvah, one demonstrates that he fears Hashem Who sees, knows, and understands our thoughts and actions.  Accordingly, we provide below many salient points gleaned from this wonderful sefer, which are indeed “suitable for framing”--and which certainly should be reviewed from time to time--and especially when you well know that you are about to have a challenging encounter.  We present the points by number, for ease of reference.


1. The Chazon Ish wrote, “Even if what you say will cause someone pain or discomfort for only a brief moment, it is a violation of this Torah commandment.”

2.      Be aware of what the consequences of what your words will be.  Any time your words will cause someone pain it constitutes Ono’as Devorim.

3.      Some people can suffer again and again for years because of insulting remarks people have made to them.

4.      One of the easiest ways to make enemies is to insult people.

5.      Someone who studies Torah has a greater obligation than others to avoid all forms of Ono’as Devorim.  Failure to do so will cause others to learn from his negative example, and could even cause people to have negative feelings about Torah study in general.

6.      Any statement that disparages the appearance of another person is considered Ono’as Devorim.

7.      It is forbidden to say or do things to scare other people.

8.      The laws of Ono’as Devorim are based in the subjective response of the person you are talking to.  Even if many other people don’t mind a certain statement, if the person you say it to will be distressed, upset, angry or offended, it is forbidden.

9.      Don’t disparage the Torah thoughts of others.  If you want to disagree, do so in a polite manner.

10.  Don’t insult someone for being different from you in personality, thought, background, habits, etc.

11.  It is Ono’as Devorim to say things to a person which would imply that he is not normal.

12.   Needlessly saying things to cause someone worry is Ono’as Devorim.

13.   When you have conflicting interests with someone, master the art of finding peaceful solutions.  Find the basic needs of both parties and try to find ways that the needs of both parties can be met.

14.  Statements made in a sarcastic tone of voice constitute Ono’as Devorim, even though the words themselves might sound Kosher.

15.  Asking people personal questions about matters they would prefer not to discuss causes them discomfort and is Ono’as Devorim.

16.  It is counterproductive to say to someone, “If I told you once, I told you a thousand times…”

17.  Avoid saying, “You don’t understand,” when you are discussing ideas with others.

18.  If you see that a person is very tired or in an especially irritable mood, be very careful with what you say to him.

19.  People who are very perceptive and notice all kinds of details about personality and character of others must be careful to use this gift as a tool to help--not to hurt--others.

20.  It is easy for married couples to cause each other much emotional pain by insulting one another.  Even if two people disagree or are disappointed with each other, they should still speak to each other with respect.

21.  Anger does not give you permission to violate the prohibition against Ono’as Devorim.

22.  Humor at someone else’s expense is Ono’as Devorim.

23.  Accepting other people and their differences is one of the keys to observing this Mitzvah.

24.  When you have internalized the awareness that people are created BeTzelem Elokim--in the image of Hashem--you will experience great respect for each person you encounter.

25.  When you communicate with others, be aware of your goal.  Most insults and derogatory comments are counterproductive and will not help you achieve your goal.

26.  The more difficult it is to refrain from insulting someone, the greater the reward.

27.  Whenever you refrain from saying anything that would be Ono’as Devorim, feel the joy of fulfilling a Mitzvah.

28.  You are what you say.  By transgressing the laws of Ono’as Devorim you are lowering your own spiritual level.

29.  Any time that someone hurts your feelings in some way, view it as a learning experience to teach yourself to be more sensitive to causing others distress with words.

30.  Imagine standing before Hashem after 120 years and being confronted with all of your Ono’as Devorim statements.

31.  “It’s your fault for taking offense.”  If someone will feel pain because of what you say, you have an obligation to avoid saying it and you cannot blame the other person for feeling hurt.

32.  “I hope that this doesn’t offend you, but…”  Starting off with this statement does not render your Ono’as Devorim permissible.

33.  When you want to influence someone to do something, always try to motivate him with an approach that will be based on his needs, wants, and personality.

34.  There are many statements that if said with a smile will not cause a person distress--even though they might if a person were to say the words with a serious expression on his face.

35.  There are always ways of disagreeing with someone that show a basic respect for him even though you disagree with what he said.

36.  The laws of Ono’as Devorim apply even to parents when they speak to their children.

37.  The laws of Ono’as Devorim apply even to small children.  Insulting a young child or frightening him as a joke is forbidden.

38.  If someone is angry, it is an act of kindness to calm him down.  Be careful not to say things that would be Ono’as Devorim to someone who is presently angry.

39.  When you speak to a stranger, you might not be aware of his particular sensitivities and therefore might cause him pain unintentionally.  Note the facial reactions of the people you speak to.

40.  When you see someone insulting another person, have the courage to say something to stop him.

41.  Be willing to make a public commitment to your family and friends that you will be careful with Ono’as Devorim.

42.  Statements that can easily be Ono’as Devorim:

“I heard Lashon Hora about you”

“Everybody knows”

“Do you remember me?”

“Why aren’t you married yet?”

“You don’t care”

“You don’t understand”

“You should have asked me”

“Talk it into yourself”

“Keep your mouth…”

“Get lost”

“I don’t care”

“So what?!”

“I see that you are nervous”

“I never do that…”



As we all know, the Parsha has reminded us of this Mitzvah this particular week, at this particular point, and even at this particular juncture in our lives [this is what Hashgacha is all about], because it is something for each and every one of us to work on in his own particular way.  Let us each meet the challenge--and fulfill this great Mitzvah in a way that brings us a wonderful Nachas Ruach--which will bring along with it Nachas Ruach to others…and, in a magnificent way, to our Creator as well! 



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


Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. The following is a portion of them, BE”H bli neder we will post more of the questions and answers in the coming weeks .  If anyone has any further follow-up questions regarding the answers, he should contact his own Rav for there may be another opinion, or contact Rabbi Webster at 718-259-2063.


1. Is there a difference in the melacha of בישול between something that is food versus non-food?
 The melacha of Bishul applies to all solid and liquid items whether the item is edible or not in its raw state, e.g., fruit/veg., water, metal, etc.


2. Is there a difference in food between a liquid and solid?
 Yes, there is a difference relating to at which point the item is considered as cooked.


3. Is one permitted to put a cold liquid into boiling hot water?
 No, not even for a moment.


4. Is one permitted to take cold water and put it on top of a hot urn in order to make a cup of coffee?
 No, one is even not permitted to leave the water on top of the urn even for a few minutes if the water can be heated to yad soledes bo after some time.


5. For a solid food, at what temperature is food considered as cooked?
 Min HaTorah a solid food is considered as cooked if the food reaches the level of Ben De’rosai --approximately 1/3 -1/2 cooked. However, MidRabanan one is not permitted to place an uncooked item even for a moment near a fire that is capable to cook the item to this level.


6. Is one permitted to place a solid that was not cooked near a flame?


7. At what degree is a liquid considered as cooked?
 Min HaTorah a liquid item is considered as cooked if the liquid is heated to yad soledes bo. There is a dispute among the poskim as to this temperature. It ranges from 110-125 f.


8. How does one know if a liquid is at this temperature (how can one test it)?
 If one touches the item, and must withdraw one’s hand upon contact--then it is yad soledes bo.


9. Is one permitted to speed up the cooking process on Shabbos for something that was not cooked completely?
 One is not permitted to accelerate the cooking process. Therefore, even if the item is cooked to the degree of Ben De’rosai, one is not permitted to accelerate the cooking in order to complete the cooking process.
 This halacha applies in the following situations:
 A) Moving a pot closer to the flame even on a blech.
 B) Stirring a pot either on the blech or off the blech.
 C) Covering a pot either on the blech or off the blech, as long as the item is yad soledes bo.
 D) Removing food or liquid from the pot either on the blech or off the blech as long as the item is yad soledes bo.
 E) Closing an oven door if there is food in the oven that is not completely cooked.


10. If one has a blech on the stove, can he move food around on the blech.  What does it depend on?
 See #9A if the food is not completely cooked.


11. If one has a pot of food that was not completely cooked, can one remove some food in order to feed a child?
 See #9D


12. If one has a cholent on a blech can one remove cholent from it?
 See #9A if the food is not completely cooked. If the cholent is completely cooked, one may remove cholent by moving the pot off the area of the fire.


13. If one has to make a baby bottle with hot water right after she light candles, is she permitted to take the hot water from an electric urn?
 See #9D, if the water is completely cooked than it is permitted.


14. If one smells that his vegetables are starting to burn on Friday night, is one permitted to stir them?
 See #9B, if the veg are completely cooked than it is permitted. However, one cannot stir them while they are over the flame area.


15. My daughter uncovered the chicken pan on the blech on Friday night-- Am I permitted to re-cover it?
 See #9C, if the chicken is completely cooked than it is permitted. However, according to HaGaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein Z'tl one should move the pan of the fire area in order to re-cover it.



Special Note Two:  The Parsha of Behar teaches us the primary role Shemita plays in demonstrating and developing our Emunah in Hakodosh Boruch Hu--Hashem is the Creator, the Maker, the Keeper and the End-All.  To stress Shemita’s importance, Rashi writes at the beginning of the Parsha, that from the fact that the Torah states that the mitzvah of Shemita was given at Sinai, we learn that all Mitzvos were given there, even if not explicitly stated.


Let us examine this for a moment.  What did Sinai initially provide to us?  It provided our connection, our relationship to Hashem for all time--for mankind never again experienced the event, nor needed to. Why not?  Because the Mitzvos embody and carry Har Sinai with us daily.  Had we remained at Har Sinai forever, we would have needed no Torah and Mitzvos, for our relationship with Hashem would have always remained on that skyscraping altitude.  But this was not the world's purpose.  So, the Torah teaches, it is through Shemita, with all the other Mitzvos derived therefrom, that we are to extend our Har Sinai experience--our unbelievable connection and relationship with Hashem into everyday life.


Over the last 100 years, the great Mitzvos associated with Shemita have been renewed in Eretz Yisroel.  Indeed, the open miracles promised in the Torah in connection with Shemita observance have been visible to the naked eye in the strictly Shemita observing community of Komimius.  We must, however, recognize that according to most authorities, the Mitzvos associated with Shemita today are D’Rabbanan, and not from the Torah.  Moreover, those who live far from Eretz Yisroel, from New York to Moscow , and from Montreal to Melbourne , have their direct Shemita experience limited to, perhaps, a “Prozbol” (a unique method which allows debts which Shemita would have otherwise cancelled to remain extant).  What then could be our “lead” commandment, our paradigm mitzvah, to guide us in our relationship with Hashem, to carry us from Sinai in a very meaningful way?


We suggest that Parshas Behar--and its first Mitzvah of Shemita--is always read close to Shavuos, for it teaches us what can bring us close to Har Sinai.  Let us see what the next Mitzvah is after Shemita in the Parsha--it is “Lo Sonu...”--the great prohibition against cheating or deceiving someone else.  This Mitzvah most certainly applies in our times in full force.  In fact, there is a very detailed Siman in Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, 227) that provides the Halacha in many, many “tricky” situations.  In order for us to fathom the paramount relevance of honesty in monetary matters with our relationship with Hashem, we need only look to the Gemara in Shabbos(31A), which teaches and reminds us that the **FIRST** question that a person will be asked after 120 years is--“Did you deal honestly in business?”  JUST AS SHEMITA FORGES OUR EMUNAH IN HAKADOSH BARUCH HU--SO TOO DOES DEALING HONESTLY AND PROPERLY IN BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MATTERS FOSTERS, DEVELOPS AND BUILDS OUR EMUNAH.


Perhaps , then, it is also no coincidence that the word “cheat” is so closely related to the word “chait”--sin--for a key aspect of chait--a real source of estrangement from HaKadosh Baruch Hu is deceit, for it destroys the connection established at Sinai and fostered in us for thousands of years.


Whether as consumers, businessman, housewives, professionals or even Rabbis and teachers, we are constantly faced with judgment calls--whose money is this?  Is it mine or is it his?  Shouldn’t it be mine?  Although there are those who have defined capitalism as the economics of putting your money into my pocket, we suggest that the Torah defines economics as the great method of maintaining and expanding a close relationship with your Maker.  Every little struggle, and certainly every greater struggle, in this area brings us infinitely closer to that very time that our very souls stood at Sinai.



Special Note Three:  Several related notes:


1.  Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Mishlei: “Rabos Machashavos B’lev Ish, Va'atzas Hashem He Sakum” (Mishlei 19:21 )--there are many thoughts in Man's heart, but the plans of Hashem are what endure.  Fascinatingly, this is one of the few Pesukim from Mishlei that we recite in our daily davening.  We may suggest that this Posuk is, in fact, recited in davening to remind us to focus on our Tefillah--as any foreign or outside thoughts during davening (“What will I do at work today?”, “What do I need to buy at the store?”, “Where will I go for this?”, “What will I tell him?”, “How will I do that?” etc.) are for naught, as only Hashem's plans endure. So keep the right thoughts--your kavana--for these thoughts are the only ones that work--and matter.


2.  Chazal (Chulin 89A) teach: “In whose Zechus does the World stand--in one who keeps his mouth closed during a time of dispute.”


The next time you have the opportunity to dispute--think to yourself: I’d rather be responsible for the world’s existence than winning this argument, getting in a good repartee, or even defending myself.  We recognize that sometimes it is the principle of the matter, and other times it is that the truth prevails, but if one can also leave a window of opportunity for the world when the dispute is not that important, he will have accomplished an unrecognized, but equally as important, service for mankind.  This should be remembered--and acted upon--as often as possible!


3.  In the last Bracha of Birchos HaShachar we ask that we not be brought today “Lidei Vizayon”--to disgrace.  What do we mean by this request?  After all, as the classic Tomer Devorah (written by HaRav Moshe Cordevero Z’TL) teaches in Chapter 2, disgrace brings about forgiveness for sin in a far easier way to achieve than physical suffering, sickness, death, or loss of Olam Haba.  Why are we seemingly asking Hashem to save us from the preferred method of forgiveness?  Perhaps we can answer with the following  very famous and equally meaningful story, brought by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita in Love Your Neighbor (p. 297):


"When Rabbi Zalman of Volozhin was traveling with his brother Rav Chayim, they were mistreated by an innkeeper…[who] shouted insults at the two brothers and refused to allow them to stay at the inn.  As they were leaving...Rav Chayim noticed that his brother was crying.  ‘Why are you crying?’ asked Rav Chayim, ‘I didn’t take what he said to heart, and you shouldn’t either.’  ‘I’m not crying because of his insults,’ replied Rav Zalman... ‘I am crying [because I was not oblivious to his] insults.’”


Accordingly, what we may be asking for when we request of Hashem daily that we not be brought “Lidei Vizayon” is that if we are in fact disgraced today, that we be assisted not to take it personally, narrowly, and vengefully, but as a sublime, unequalled source of Kapara affecting and effecting our eternity.  This, then, is a very important prayer.  While this concept may seem difficult at first, we must remember that the champion weightlifter or speed skater started working on mastering their success somewhere, and this--and you and your goal--are infinitely more important.



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  In which Navi do we find the Posuk “KiMei Tzeisecha MeiEretz-Mitzrayim Arenu Niflaos--just as in the days when you left Mitzrayim I will show wonders again”?  We were recently contacted by a concerned and sincere person who asked why we were not having a Shiur or Shiurim on what to do when the Moshiach comes.  Are you smiling or smirking?  Perhaps each and every one of us should give his own personal attention to the request and consider the thoughts that we should have, and our at least planned course of action, to ready ourselves for the Moshiach.  Do we know what to say or what Brachos to make?  Yes, perhaps we will learn it then, but perhaps we will not.  As we come closer to Shavuos and the source of Malchus Bais Dovid and Moshiach, perhaps we could at least study the actions taken by Boaz and Rus--which brought the Moshiach into the realm of reality! 



Special Note One:  Chazal (Sanhedrin 20A) teach that in a generation of Rebbi Yehudah the son of Rebbi Ila’i the poverty was so great that six people were forced to cover themselves with one tallis.  HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, provides an outstanding insight on this Chazal.  If six individuals were able to cover themselves with one tallis, it meant that no one individual was pulling the tallis too much towards him, and in fact that each individual was allowing the covering to be pulled in all directions by his different ‘partners’.  Chazal teach that despite the abject poverty of this generation, it superseded much wealthier and seemingly more prominent generations in the power of its prayers.  The lesson to us all is obvious.  When one feels himself struggling and at apparent odds with another--and even with legitimate reason--he should allow himself to let that other person have ‘a little bit of the tallis’.  Only children should care about who wins in a 'tug of war'. We should see how far we can go in sharing, giving and even relenting to another.  We can really go much farther than we think--while still keeping ourselves covered.  As we speed through the days of Sefira--almost reaching the halfway point, we should be sure to let go of the tallis a little bit more in the challenging situations--which will be a clear and effective demonstration that we have in fact grabbed hold of the Sefira and its lessons to us.  The next time you feel a tug--don't respond by pulling hard in your direction as you did when you were a child--but let it slip gently to bring pleasure to, and build relationships with, the person who is tugging at it with you!



Special Note Two:  At the outset of the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva, the Rabbeinu Yonah writes that Teshuva is not a one-month or ten day of the year attempt, but is a daily requirement for one who realizes that the Yetzer Hora has bested him in some way. In fact, one who makes the mistake of putting off  his Teshuva to a later time may very well be committing a greater indiscretion than the first sin itself!  As we know, the three aspects of immediate Teshuva are Charata (true remorse and regret for what was done), Kabala Ahl HaAsid--setting up a safeguard or taking a measure or measures so that it does not happen so fast again, and Vidui--admitting and confessing that you made a wrong turn.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah provides a profound insight into the concept of Vidui.  He writes that when one verbally expresses his sin to Hashem, his Kavannah should be 'lekabel alav tahara'--to bring upon himself a purity, a cleansing.  As Dovid HaMelech expresses in the Perek HaTeshuva (Tehillim 51): "Herev Cabseini MaiAvoni--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity" (ibid. 51:4). Some feel,or at least hope for, a greater sense of purity and cleansing when they immerse in a mikva on Erev Shabbos, or Erev Yom Tov.  We, Dovid HaMelech teaches, have the opportunity to accomplish a true cleansing, a real purification, with the sincere words of Vidui which we articulate.  How and why could a person who realizes that his life needs some fixing wait days or months--when he can freely immerse in the comfort of his home or office--in a kabala of tahara through a  heartfelt and genuine expression of vidui!


Additional Note:  We don't have to wait to recite Vidui to use our mouths for great accomplishments.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (12:8): 'Lefi Sichlo Yehulal Ish', which we could take to mean that a person is praised in accordance with the level of his wisdom.. The Targum there, however, provides a more telling explanation.  It translates 'Lefi' not as 'in accordance with', but instead as 'to the mouth'--so that the Pasuk in fact reads (translated) "a person is praised by the wisdom that is uttered from his mouth."  What is the greatest wisdom that one can attain?  Obviously, Torah which Hashem gave to us--and told us is the best thing for us in life. When we recite in Ma'ariv "Ki Haim Chayeinu--for they (the Torah and the Mitzvos contained within it) are our life--it is no allegory or parable.  By making a special effort to relate a D'var Torah when the situation or event seems devoid of Torah, to actually cheer someone's spirits with a teaching from Chazal, to share a thought that you heard from a Rav or Maggid Shiur with a friend or business associate--doesn't only show that you know something--but also decidedly demonstrates , says the wisest of all men, that you are especially worthy of  praise for the words of your mouth. 


As we proceed to Kabalas HaTorah, we can accomplish oh so much more by letting go on the rope to another, and by focusing and directing our utterances to words of Torah--Lefi Sichlo-- in the various situations and circumstances we find ourselves in.  The life of a shopkeeper, school teacher, person you are sitting next to at a simcha or on a bus, neighbor, friend or family member can all be eternally enhanced by a D'var Torah that you just learned and exert the effort to relate --and you can actually change someone's life.  So don't shy away in carrying a Torah thought further--and be praised for your wisdom by Hashem and by man--because you deserve it!



Special Note One:  As we begin the Summer Season which we looked so forward to during the Winter, we begin to reap some of Summer’s special spiritual benefits.  One of them is the greater opportunity to recite Brachos over the  wonderful world of fragrances around us.  The Sefer Rei’ach Hasadeh-The Fragrant Field (by Rabbi Hanoch Slatin, Shlita; Feldheim Publishers, 2003) provides us with many important Hashkafos and Halachos relating to our sense of smell which may not be very well known.  We once again provide our readers below with a “shmek”, a brief “fragrance,” from this wonderful Sefer:


1.   One of the first times the Torah refers to the sense of smell is when Yitzchok Avinu appreciates  the fragrance of his son Yaakov: “Look, the fragrance of my son, is like the fragrance of the field which Hashem blessed.” (Bereishis 27:27)  The Medrash explains that Yitzchok smelled Gan Eden--his sense of smell connected him with a world in another dimension!


2.   There are five possible Brachos over fragrances.  Their sequence, in order of priority, is as follows:

      a.    Borei Shemen Areiv--only on apharsemon oil

      b.   Hanosein Re’iach Tov Bapeiros--only for fruits

      c.    Borei Atzei V’samim--for all tree aromas

      d.   Borei Isvei V’samim--for all grass aromas

      e.    Borei Minei V’samim--for all other aromas over which a bracha is recited.


     Hakhel Footnote: In a sense, Borei Minei V’samim is an omnibus bracha similar to Shehakol Niheya B’dvaro.


3.   When one picks up a pleasant-smelling fruit with the intention to both smell it and eat it, which bracha should come first?  There is reason to assume that one should begin with the fragrance.  As the person picks up the fruit, the smell will reach his nose before he has a chance to eat the fruit, and if he does not say the bracha on the aroma first, he will be guilty of deriving pleasure from this world without first saying a bracha.  Many authorities follow this line of reasoning and instruct us to say the bracha on the smell first.


4.   Aromatherapy:  Alternative medicine is a rapidly expanding area. Some people use various scents in order to improve their health.  People may smell a fragrance, or add them to massage oils or to their bath.  This practice is called aromatherapy.  If a person  smells fragrances with no intention to enjoy their pleasant aroma, only to relieve himself of some illness, he should not make a bracha.  In practice, however, most people who employ aromatherapy also enjoy its fragrance on its own, and therefore they should recite the appropriate bracha.


Hakhel Footnote: As a matter of caution , one should first ask his Rav or Posek whether it is permissible to engage in aromatherapy per se, as different  forms of alternative medicine have been linked to aspects of Avoda Zora.  It is a person’s absolute duty to determine that the source of his proposed form of therapy does not arise from the worshipping of other gods--something so foreign to individuals in the West that we may not initially consider it.


5.   Black Pepper and Ginger: There is a difference of opinion among the authorities whether black pepper and ginger are to be considered b’samim.  Therefore, the rule is that one should not make a bracha.  In order to avoid the transgression of enjoying this world without making a bracha, one should either refrain from smelling black pepper and ginger, or make a bracha on another fragrance and intend to include the pepper or ginger, as well.



6.   Bread:  A similar question exists regarding picking up (or bending over) and smelling a fresh, warm loaf of bread.  There are authorities who maintain that bread is neither a pleasant-smelling fruit nor a bosem, and no bracha should be said on its smell.  Others rule that a bracha should be said on the smell of bread.  Even according to this view, there is a difference of opinion as to which bracha should be said.  Some say that the bracha Hanosein Rei’ach Tov Bapeiros is applicable, others insist that only the bracha Borei Minei V’samim applies, whereas still others require the recital of a special bracha Hanosein Rei’ach Tov B’pas--Who puts a pleasant smell in bread.  Again, since a bracha  may or may not be required, one should not say a bracha and should refrain from picking up(or bending over) warm bread to smell it.  This refers only to warm bread; the smell of cold bread is not strong and pleasurable enough to require a bracha.  Also, unless the bread is picked up or set aside for the purpose of smelling it, no bracha is required, even on fresh, warm bread. (Like any aromatic fruit, no bracha is said unless one takes the fruit with intention to enjoy its smell.)


7.   Weak Appreciation: One who by nature has a weak sense of smell, or whose sense of smell has been temporarily weakened due to a cold and the like, should not say a bracha on a scent which he does not sense keenly.  The same applies to one with a healthy sense of smell who does not enjoy a particular aroma.  He does not say a bracha on that particular smell, even if most people do derive pleasure from it.


8.   Weak Aroma:  Some flowers and fruits may have a very weak smell.  A person may find that one orange does not have a noticeable fragrance, but that a bowlful of oranges does.  Unless there is an appreciable fragrance coming from the item in question, do not make a bracha.


9.   Testing a Fragrance:  If one is in doubt as to how strong a smell a fragrance has, or whether or not the smell is pleasant, or whether or not his sense of smell is keen enough to be able to smell the fragrance properly, he may first smell it without a bracha as a trial.  If he finds the smell sufficiently strong and enjoyable, he should say the bracha and smell it a second time.


10.  Shabbos:  On Shabbos one of the forbidden activities is to harvest produce.  We are afraid that if one were to smell a fragrant fruit on a tree, he might want to eat that fruit and accidentally come to pick it.  Chazal therefore forbade one from smelling fruit on a tree on Shabbos.  There is no such concern about smelling a flower, as full enjoyment is derived from the flower without needing to pick it.  Therefore, one may smell growing flowers on Shabbos.  One must still be very careful to handle the plant gently.  If the plant is as soft as grass there is essentially no possibility of breaking it, so one may touch it.  If the branch of a tree is somewhat brittle, one should refrain from holding it. 


11.  In Havdalah, one may use only those fragrances that normally require a bracha.  Hand soaps or bathroom deodorants never require a bracha, so they may not be used.  Many have the custom to use hadassim (myrtle leaves) which were already used to fulfill the mitzvah of Lulav.  This is in keeping with the principle that an object used for one mitzvah is preferred over other objects to perform yet another mitzvah.  Myrtle branches usually require the bracha of Borei Atzei V’samim.  For Ashkenazim the text of Havdalah always uses the bracha of Borei Minei V’samim.  Therefore, it is advisable to also include some fragrance which normally requires a Borei Minei V’samim, such as cloves.  This is not true for Sephardim, as their custom at Havdalah is to say whichever bracha is correct for the particular fragrance being used.  Since myrtle leaves dry out and lose their scent with time, one should be careful to replenish the besomim box regularly.


12.  The author of the Sefer Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’Avodah, in his Last Will, urged his children to acknowledge Hashem in their thoughts before partaking of any pleasure of the world, even with such pleasures as snuff, which requires no bracha.  Ideally, any benefit we derive from the world should be accompanied by some form of praise and gratitude to the One Who created so many varied pleasures for us.  Therefore, even when we are not permitted to make a formal bracha, our thoughts should be directed toward Hashem.


We hope you enjoyed this whiff from the Sefer Rei’ach Hasadeh.  It is, of course, available in your local Jewish Book Store, with more detail on how a Torah Jew uses his sense of smell in serving Hashem!



Question of the Week:  In Chutz LaAretz, we keep two days of Yom Tov because of the original Sefeika D’Yoma (doubt as to which day Yom Tov really came out) in Chutz LaAretz which was far from Yerushalayim, which remained our Minhag even after we became sure of the actual dates--such as which day is really the 15th of Nissan.  This being so, why don’t we keep two counts for Sefira--one beginning on the second night of Pesach as usual, and a second count beginning on the third night of Pesach as the Sefeika D’Yoma of the previous night?  It would not, after all, be so complicated at all--with our simply reciting that today is the 20th day of the Omer, pausing a few seconds and saying that today is the 21st day of the Omer.  We eat Matzah and Maror, and maintain an entire Seder on the second night of Pesach--can’t we do the same for our precious Sefira count --with the second additional count simply being completed--on the second day of Shavuos instead of the first!



An Important Source!  Many of us are familiar with the words of the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HaChniyah, 7) in which he teaches that one who speaks Loshon Hora against another loses his zechusim to that person and inherits that person’s aveiros as well.  What are the mekoros, sources for these severe punishments as presented by the Chovos HaLevavos, and reiterated by the Chofetz Chaim in the Sefer Shemiras Halashon?  The Sefer Tallelei Oros at the end of Parshas Emor, presents the words of Chazal from which these important teachings are drawn.  We refer you there for further depth.



Special Note One:  We  received the following from a reader regarding HaRav Soloveitchik’s position on Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut:  “I would like to add, since I was there in the shiur on that day in Iyar 1978, that Rav Soloveitchik, zt"l, specifically said that if one chooses to say the chapters of Hallel as Tehillim after Kaddish Shalem, as you describe, he may NOT make a bracha!”  Hakhel Note:  We intended to convey that, and apologize if that was not clearly expressed.


Special Note Two:  Before taking leave of Parshas Emor, we must provide one final dramatic but practical teaching of the Rabbeinu Bachya, derived from the parsha of the mekallel. Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the mekallel did not simply brashly utter Hashem’s name with r’l a curse connected to it--he slowly and surely expressed the Name--with aforethought and intent.  If this one time act, teaches Rabbeinu Bachya, was able to shorten, to snuff out, the mekallel’s life by sekila being meted out against him, then IMAGINE, just IMAGINE the arichus yomim, the bracha, that a life long dedication to reciting Hashem’s name slowly and surely when reciting a bracha will bring to each and every one of us.  Such is r’l the power of a k’lala for the wrongdoer--and such is the power of a bracha for us--as the zerah beirach Hashem--to learn and apply.  Remember:  Not fast and gobbled, or even mediocre and unthinking --but Slow and Sure.  The difference is, literally, life itself!



Special Note Three:  We are now only four weeks from the giving of the Torah in 5771.  The following is excerpted from the wonderful work Leading Jews Back by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of HaRav Avraham Pam, Z’tl: “What did Rus see in Naomi that impressed her so much?  The Midrash (Rus Rabbah 2:5) gives an explanation:  Why was she called Naomi?  Because her actions were sweet and pleasant.  Rus saw in Naomi what a life devoted to Torah and Avodas Hashem can do for a person.  She saw her sterling middos, her nobility of spirit, her warmth and caring personality.  That was what attracted Rus and motivated her to give up a life of ease and luxury and “return” to Yiddishkeit as a penniless, widowed convert, forced to live off the charity of others.  This is the enormous power a person with a pleasant, warm personality and good middos has on other people.  He attracts followers like a magnet and can have great influence on their lives. This is a proven method to bring closer to Yiddishkeit those who are estranged from the heritage of their forefathers.  While philosophical discussions and proofs of the existence of a Creator are certainly tools in bringing Ba’alei Teshuvah back to their roots, a critical factor is to show how the ways of Torah are pleasant and all its pathways are peace (Mishlei 3:17).  This has the drawing power to influence people to a Torah way of life.  Derech Eretz precedes Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 9:3).  This concept underlines the vital importance of Torah Jews conducting themselves with the utmost courtesy and respect in their interpersonal relationships.  They must not forget that wherever they go--whether in the business or professional world, or as neighbors or friends--they represent the Torah.  One does not have to be a Rabbi or kiruv professional to influence others.  Every Torah Jew presents an image to those around him which, depending on his conduct, will either bring others closer to Yiddishkeit or, c’v, cause estrangement from it.  It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.  This can be seen by the great influence one woman (Naomi) has on another (Rus), which set into motion the chain of events which led to the founding of Malchus Bais Dovid and planted the seeds of Moshiach.


Hakhel Note:  It is no coincidence that the Sefira is a time of growth in Bain Odom LeChaveiro, as a necessary prerequisite to Kabbalas HaTorah.  Rabbi Frand’s Hakhel Sefira Shiur this past Sunday on narcissism was an OUTSTANDING review and presentation of how a Torah Jew is to conduct his life both inwardly and outwardly.  We urge those who were not present to obtain a copy of the Shiur ( tape or cd), by contacting 718-252-5274. Listening to and applying Rabbi Frand’s great teachings will emanate far beyond this Sefira period--long and far into life!



Special Note One:  As we remember our innocent brothers who have fallen at the hands of our enemies in Eretz Yisroel, we reiterate our Note of Erev Shabbos, as follows:  In last week's Parsha, the Torah teaches “Venikdashti Besoch Bnei Yisroel” (Vayikra 22:32).  HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita was asked whether one makes a bracha before he is about to be put to death Ahl Kiddush Hashem.  HaRav Kanievsky responded that the Mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem is “Mah SheHa’adam Muchan U’Moser Atzmo LaiHareig Al Kedushas Shemo Yisbarach--one fulfills the Mitzvah if he is prepared to give his life to sanctify Hashem’s name, even if in the end he is not killed.”  He continues that those who were killed by the Nazis Y’S or the Arabs Y’S, have the zechus of Kedoshim, but would not make a Bracha prior to their being murdered because they were killed against their will. 



Special Note Two:  By popular request, we once again provide the following Note:


Tomorrow, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, is celebrated in some of our communities (in various ways), and not celebrated in others.  We all know the different approaches and sentiments on the topic--and note that in the Third Beis Hamikdash described by Yecheskel there will be 12 entrances, for there can be different approaches to the one Avodah.  What we may add is that however one does or does not celebrate, observe or perform--it should be done in accordance with the teachings of his ultimate Rav or Posek.  There can be much misinformation or misguidance, and a person can conduct himself based upon what he believes to be correct, without further consultation--and this is the part that is wrong.  As a case in point, we may mention that HaRav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, Z’tl, Rav of Boston, and Rosh HaYeshiva of RIETS, was in the Yeshiva on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut 5738 (1978)--one of the latter years of his giving Shiurim in the Yeshiva.  He davened Shacharis in the Morgenstern dormitory minyan, which davened with Hallel.  Later that morning, rather than giving Shiur on Perek HaZahav (the 4th perek of Bava Metziah which was being studied that Zeman in his Shiur), Rav Soloveitchik, obviously upset, instead gave Shiur on the importance of keeping the Tzuras HaTefillah intact.  Shemone Esrei is followed by Chazaras Hashatz, which is followed by Tachanun, and then followed by Ashrei and U’va Letzion--and we do not have the right or privilege of changing that, he opined.  Rav Soloveitchik continued that if one wanted to express his personal gratitude or thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, he could recite the Chapters of Hallel in Tehillim (Chapters 113-118) after davening.  Now, this is not to say that Rav Soloveitchik had a different opinion in earlier years or in later years (we do not know either way)--but it is to say that someone was not following his Rebbe if he knew what his opinion was at that time--and still recited Hallel in place of Tachanun in order to make his own personal statement.  On the other hand, if one’s final Halachic authority is the Rabbanut, his practice would be different.  This ruling will be different than that of the Badatz-Yerushalayim.  What does your ultimate Rabbinic authority say?  A person must look upwards for answers--not to himself, downwards or sideways.


The following is really true:  A person collecting tzedaka on behalf of a yeshiva in France, promoting Torah among more needy Sefardi families, was asked by a potential donor whether his yeshiva said Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (we won’t reveal which way he wanted the answer to come out), and the answer would be the determining factor as to whether he received a donation.  The collector gave the “wrong” answer and was promptly escorted out empty-handed.  Would any Rabbinic authority make this one question the sole determining factor as to whether a Torah institution was to be supported or helped, even minimally?  We doubt it, but we suggest that if a potential donor has this ‘dilemma’, he should ask a Shaila rather than allow emotions or sentiments to override the Halacha one must follow as an Eved Hashem--which, by definition, is always the right thing to do.



Special Note Three:  Several outstanding notes relating to the connections between the many topics in last week’s Parsha:


A.  The Sefas Emes notes that the concept of “Velo Sechalelu Es Shem Kadshi VeNikdashti Besoch Bnei Yisroel…” (Vayikra 22:32) is uniquely placed in between the Parsha of Kedushas Kohanim, and the Parsha of the Moadim.  Why?!!  He answers that the Kohanim represent the epitome of Kedusha in man, and that the Moadim represent the height of Kedusha in time, and goes on to provide a sublime explanation.  Using his question and words as a starting point, we may suggest that the Torah, by placing the concept of Kiddush Hashem/Chillul Hashem in between these two high points of Kedusha is teaching us that every one of us really has a great privilege and responsibility, each in his own way, to live up to and fulfill the Kedusha inherent within him. 


Additional Note I:  Rav Yaakov Naiman, Z’tl, notes that from the contrast of Velo Sechalelu to VeNikdashti that there is really nothing in between--one’s action are either within the guise of Kiddush Hashem or c’v a Chillul Hashem.  It is well known that if the Chofetz Chaim arrived even a little late in Shul he would not begin davening at that Minyan, but would wait at another Minyan to daven, so that no one would think that he would arrive late and ‘catch-up’ or skip in davening.  To be sure, turning any episode, event of a situation away from Chillul Hashem into Kiddush Hashem is one of the great challenges--and accomplishments--of life.


Additional Note II:  The Chofetz Chaim once provided the following Mashal:  Once, at a particular army base, there were two soldiers who were guilty of insubordination.  One was to be punished because he arrived at roll call with a button missing from his uniform.  The other was caught fleeing the base to ‘freedom’.  Whose punishment was going to be greater?  The Chofetz Chaim writes that if Torah Jews, are r’l insubordinate, they are to be viewed more as the soldier fleeing the base, as they have a higher degree of responsibility to their peers, and to the world at large.  Conversely, we can be continuously promoted in the ranks, as our competition is regrettably not that great, and our acts of valor in these trying times shine greater than they would have in earlier times. 


It is up to us to meet the Kedusha that we are charged with in last week’s Parsha.  If we would keep our own dedicated written record of Kiddushei Hashem that we perform, it would be a further inspiration to us…and to those around us! 


B.  Chazal (Torah Kohanim 13:12, as brought by Rashi to Vayikra 23:22) teach that the reason the Pasuk of “U’Vekutzrichem Es Ketzir Artzechem” (ibid.), which relates to giving Tzedaka, is especially placed in the Parsha in between the Moadim of Pesach and Shavuos on the one hand, and the Moadim of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos on the other hand, is to teach that one who gives Tzedaka to a poor person in a fitting way is considered as if he built the Bais HaMikdash and brought Karbanos in it.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, provides the following incredible lesson routed in this Chazal:  The Navi teaches that “Veshaveha BiTzedaka” (Yeshaya 1:27).  This means, HaRav Moshe writes, that if one gives Tzedaka appropriately, he is worthy of Geulah, and it is other members of the generation that are preventing it.  For the meritorious person, Hashem would have built the Bais HaMikdash, and the man would be able to bring Karbanos.  Therefore, Hashem gives him the S’char, Hashem considers it as if the Bais HaMikdash was built and he had offered up all of his Karbanos in it!  Let us remember this when we are about to write a Tzedaka check!


C.  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Z’tl, writes that after the Torah describes the altercation between the member of Bnei Yisroel and the Ben Ish Mitzri (near the end of the Parsha), the Torah then goes on to a listing of Nezikin of other damages and injuries (and their punishments), before coming back to provide the punishment of the Ben Ish Mitzri for what he had done.  HaRav Yaakov explains that this is to teach us that one disagreement, one dispute, one argument does not end there, but can fester and can continue in various forms and ways--moving onto other people, other venues and other situations--but all tracing back to that initial seemingly personal and private, close and closed word and issue.  This is a great lesson for us all--we must not let the first insult, the first jab, the first cutting remark or hurtful deed go further--because there is no telling to where it may lead.  Quite to the contrary, the first upbeat remark, the first compliment, the first positive word--we have no idea where that will lead either!  One thing is for sure, in the Heavens, everything is seen, everything is heard, everything is known.  Instead of a sad or dismal chain of events tracing itself back to us…may we be blessed with the wonderful ramifications of our actions--that we don’t even know about!



Special Note One:  Regarding the acronym of the word Iyar as ‘Ani Hashem Rofecha,’ we received the following from a reader:  “I also wanted to add that Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein always says that when the rain comes in Iyar, you open your mouth and let it in, and just feel that Hashem is healing your whole body.  It is an amazing thing to do--I’ve been doing it every year since he said it.” 

Hakhel Note One:  If you choose to do this, you should consult with your Rav as to if and when a Bracha may first be required.

Hakhel Note Two:  It is interesting to note that Matzah is referred to as the healing bread or healing food.  One may therefore suggest that the reason we are not commanded to eat Matzah the whole year (and forbidden to eat Chometz, as part of our Kashrus observance) is because once we have taken medication and been healed, there is no need to take the medication any further.  However, we do not then proceed directly into the rest of the year without anything more--but are then especially treated to the special healing qualities inherent within the month of Iyar!  Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu--Oh how great is our lot!



Special Note Two:  Regarding Hashem’s ultimate punishment of the Rasha U’merusha who was recently, we recall the following story, as brought in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim A Lesson A Day (Artscroll, pp. 434-435):  In the Chofetz Chaim’s youth, a widow in Radun rented an apartment from a Jewish laborer.  In her poverty, she was unable to pay her rent, so the landlord attempted to evict her, but it was winter and she refused to leave. The landlord then proceeded to remove the roof that covered her dwelling. The entire city was in an uproar over the wicked deed.  However, the landlord paid no attention to this and forced the widow to leave in the height of winter.  The Chofetz Chaim concluded: “Years passed and nothing happened; but I did not forget this despicable incident. I said to myself--Can it be that life will go smoothly for this man?! Some ten years later, the landlord was bitten by a mad dog. After a few days, he began to bark like a dog; his illness lingered for a few weeks until he died.” Hakhel Note:  There is a Judge, and there is Justice.  This is true for each individual on his own level and his own deeds.  In the last Pasuk of Shema that we read daily, the words ‘Ani Hashem Elokeichem’ are found both the beginning and end of the Pasuk.  We must remember that Hashem rewards and Hashem punishes--all in the proper and in fact perfect time, as the Melech HaOlam who is Hatzur Tamim Pa’alo, who is perfect in all respects.  Let us take the lesson to our hearts! Let us do what we can to enhance our thoughts, improve our words and direct our deeds--so that rather than c’v’ a punishment ten years hence, we be entitled to His closeness--today, in the hear and now! 



Special Note Three:  Rulings from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita relating to Sefiras HaOmer:


QUESTION:  Is there a Mitzvah of Chinuch on counting Sefira as very often the children will be asleep at night when you want to count with them? 

ANSWER:  For Chinuch purposes, one can count with them during Bein HaShemashos, before they go to bed.


QUESTION:  Should girls count with a Bracha?

ANSWER:  The Mishna Berura rules they should not, lest they forget counting for a day (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 489; seif katan 3).  However, if there is a real basis for reminding them nightly it is permitted for them to count with a Bracha, as in the Steipeler’s home, the girls would make a Bracha, because the Steipeler himself would remind them every night.


QUESTION:  Can a barber stay open during Sefira for non-religious Jews if their alternative would be to go to a barber who would use a razor?

ANSWER:  It is not permissible, and it is not the religious barber’s responsibility if they would violate other Issurim as a result of his not servicing them, for if he does service them he himself would be violating a ‘lifnei iveir’ kind of aveira relating to Sefiras HaOmer.



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches “Venikdashti Besoch Bnei Yisroel” (Vayikra 22:32 ).  HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita was asked whether one makes a bracha before he is about to be put to death Ahl Kiddush Hashem.  HaRav Kanievsky responded that the Mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem is “Mah SheHa’adam Muchan U’Moser Atzmo LaiHareig Al Kedushas Shemo Yisbarach--one fulfills the Mitzvah if he is prepared to give his life to sanctify Hashem’s name, even if in the end he is not killed.”  He continues that those who were killed by the Nazis Y’S or the Arabs Y’S, have the zechus of Kedoshim, but would not make a Bracha prior to their being murdered because they were killed against their will.  HaRav Kanievsky adds that it is reported that the mechaber of the Sefer D’var Avrohom recited a bracha before he was killed by the Nazis, but that he is surprised by that report. Hakhel Note:  See the introduction to the Sefer Kovetz Shiurim of HaRav Elchanan Wasserman Z’tl, H’YD, relating to HaRav Elchanan’s preparations for petira Ahl Kiddush Hashem.  Hakhel Note:  In all events, we note that we recite daily in Shacharis-- Kadesh Es Shimcha Ahl Makdishei Shemecha...Baruch Atta...Mekadesh Es Shimcha Barabim!  Let us give these awesome words the Kavannah they deserve daily!



Special Note Five:  In this week’s Parsha we also find the distinctive Mitzvah of “Vekidashto”…and you shall sanctify the Kohen by treating him with a higher level of dignity and respect (Vayikra 21:8).  Accordingly, we once again provide our notes relating to this special Mitzvah.  The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 269) writes that this Mitzvah D’Oraysa applies at all times (not only when the Bais HaMikdash is standing), and furthermore that the Mitzvah applies equally to both men and women.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 128:72) writes that there are opinions to be lenient in the Mitzvas Aseh of VeKidashto today because our Kohanim may not have clear “yichussei Kehuna” (evidence of lineage), but rejects this opinion with the strong words “VeCholila Lomar Kain U’Lehatil Dofi BeKedushas Kohanim--Heaven Forbid to say this and to cast aspersions on the holiness of our Kohanim!”  Accordingly, we provide below some important points relating to this Mitzvah, which apply in our everyday life:


  1. The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 228) writes that it is  “Assur LeHishtamesh BeKohen”--it is forbidden to use a Kohen to perform tasks and services on one’s behalf, even in our days, and if one does so it is like being “Mo’el beHekdesh”--it is as if one is violating something that is holy.


  1. The Poskim discuss whether the Mitzvah upon us of VeKidashto applies to Kohanim who are ba’alei moom (possess blemishes which would render them unfit to serve in the Bais HaMikdash), or to Kohanim who are still under the age of Bar Mitzvah, since both of whom could, in fact, eat Kodshim (the Karbonos in the Bais HaMikdash), even though they cannot actually serve.  The Piskei Teshuvos (I:128:94) writes that, because it is a Machlokes among the Poskim and it is a Sofek D’Oraysa, we should be machmir, and treat both a Kohen who is physically disqualified from serving because of a moom, and a Kohen under Bar Mitzvah, with the dignity and  respect of VeKidashto, where it is possible.


  1. Examples of VeKidashto in specific positive areas include having the Kohen go first--not only in Aliyos to the Torah, but also in making Kiddush for everyone, making the HaMotzi for everyone, leading the Bentching, being Motzi the Rabim with a Mitzvah, speaking first at any gathering, being the Shaliach Tzibbur and in taking first portions at a seudah.  See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 167:14 and the Mishna Berurah and commentaries there for further detail if a Talmid Chacham is present.  One should consult with his Rav or Posek if in doubt as to any particular circumstances.


  1. The Poskim discuss whether a Kohen has the right to waive VeKidashto as to himself.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 128, seif katan 175) rules that a Kohen does have the right to waive your VeKidashto of him and perform tasks or services for you, but lechatchila only if he benefits from it by payment or in some other way.  In no event, however, writes the Mishna Berurah (ibid.) may one have a Kohen perform “sheirus bezuyos--embarrassing or demeaning tasks on one’s behalf”.


  1. May one Kohen perform tasks for another Kohen?  The Bi’ur Halacha d’h’Assur writes that “Efsher SheMuttar--perhaps it is permissible”, and the Aruch HaShulchan writes that it is “Tzarich Iyun LeDina”--unclear, requiring further investigation.  Interestingly, however, family members who are not Kohanim, and spouses of Kohanim (!), would still have the Mitzvah of VeKidashto apply to them and their Kohen close family member!


  1. The Sefer Chofetz Chaim (Aseh 9) writes that if one speaks Lashon Hora against a Kohen who is in front of him, thereby offending him, he has violated the Mitzvas Aseh of VeKidashto.


  1. If a Kohen is married to someone that is forbidden to him according to Halacha, or is metamei lemeisim, defiles himself with tumah, the mitzvah of VeKidashto does not apply.  However, if the Kohen is a ba’al aveira in other areas, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether the heightened respect for his status as a Kohen would still apply.  See Piskei Teshuvos 1:128:97.


  1. The Chinuch writes that the reason for this special Mitzvah is ‘to give honor to Hashem who chose the Kohanim to serve Him in very special ways…’ for when one honors the King’s officers, he honors the King.”  Accordingly, the Chinuch continues, whenever we honor the Kohanim, we should have in mind that we are honoring Hashem.  In this zechus, the Chinuch concludes, Hashem will bring His brachos and goodness upon us, as He so much wants to do.


  1. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita rules that if there are two deceased people (a Kohen and a Yisroel) to bury, the Kohen would come first, because he will return to his Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash upon Techiyas HaMeisim.  If for some reason he would not return in Techiyas HaMeisim (for one of the reasons that one does not return, such as lending money on Ribbis), then there would be no Halacha of Vekidashto for him here either.  In responding to a different question in VeKidashto, HaRav Kanievsky rules that if two students ask a question at the same time and one is a Kohein, the Kohein should be answered first.  Finally, HaRav Kanievsky rules that a Kohen also takes precedence in terms of receiving Tzedaka and loans (see Sefer Derech Emunah Hilchos Matanos Aniyim 8: seif katan 108).


  1.  Related Notes:


    1. The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 201, seif katan 13) writes that one should give preference to a Levi over a Yisroel of equal stature in respect of Bircas HaMotzi, Bentching and Tzedaka.


    1. An important point relating to Bircas Hakohanim--the Bi’ur Halacha (at the outset of Orach Chayim 128) brings the ruling of the Sefer Chareidim, when a Yisroel stands in front of the Kohanim with the Kavannah of receiving their bracha as Hashem commanded, the Yisroel himself has a part in the Mitzvas Aseh of Bircas Kohanim!



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


A.  Kiddush Wine. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 210:1) brings a Machlokes HaPoskim as to the minimum shiur of wine one needs to drink in order to be required to make the bracha achrona of Al Hagefen. According to some opinions, the shiur for a bracha achrona of Al Hagefen is only one k’zayis (which the Mishna Berurah explains is one-third of a reviis, or approximately only one ounce).  Accordingly, when distributing Kiddush Wine around the table, we should be careful to give only a very small amount (less than one ounce) to each person to avoid a safek bracha achrona.


B.  A Door Opener. If one’s door knob falls off on Shabbos, it is prohibited to even loosely place the doorknob back in the handle to open the door because (i) it resembles the melacha of boneh; and (ii) the doorknob is muktzeh. There is also the possibility that a person might continue to completely rebuild it (shemah yetokah). Instead, one should use a knife, bobby pin, handle of a spoon, or, if necessary, a screwdriver to open the door (The 39 Melachos, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, Volume IV, page 1090).


C.  Shabbos Bows. One is permitted to make bows on Shabbos, but only for items which typicallywould come apart on Shabbos (i.e., are not meant to last more than one day), such as shoe laces.  Accordingly, when one’s trash bag is full, he should not close it by tying a bow on top, since he never  intends to open it afterwards (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 317, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 29).


D.  Shabbos Nap. The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 8, seif katan 42) writes that if one naps

during the day, one should leave his tzitzis on, or at least cover himself with his tzitzis, because there is a Machlokes Haposkim as to whether sleeping is a “hesech hadaas” , requiring a new brocha on the tzitzis.

Note: One should consult with his Rav as to the necessity of making a new brocha of Al Mitzvas Tzitzis when putting back on his tzitzis (and certainly when putting on a specially-designated pair of “Shabbos tzitzis”) after bathing on Erev Shabbos.


E.  B’EH next week, we will be starting a new and important series on Hilchos Bishul, with Practical Shailos and Teshuvos given by Dayan Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, who is also Maggid Shiur B’Halacha for Hakhel in Boro Park .  We provide below the first questions to test yourself, and where necessary--beginning your own to look into the Halacha LeMa’aseh!


1. Is there a difference in the melacha of Bishul between something that is food versus non-food?

2. Is there a difference in food between a liquid and solid?

3. Is one permitted to put a cold liquid into boiling hot water?

4. Is one permitted to take cold water and put it on top of a hot urn in order to make a cup of coffee?

5. At what temperature is solid food considered as cooked?

6. Is one permitted to place a solid that was not cooked near a flame?

7. At what temperature is a liquid considered as cooked?

8. How does one know if a liquid is at that temperature (how can one test it)?

9. Is one permitted to speed up the cooking process on Shabbos for something that was not cooked completely?

10. If one has a blech on the stove, can I move food around on the blech.  What does it depend on?

11. If one has a pot of food that was not completely cooked can one remove some food in order to feed a child?

12. If one has a cholent on a blech can one remove cholent from it?

13. If one has to make a baby bottle with hot water right after they light candles is one permitted to take the hot water from an electric urn?

14. If one smells that his vegetables are starting to burn on Friday night, is one permitted to stir them?

15. My daughter uncovered the chicken pan on the blech on Friday night.  Am I permitted to re-cover it?



Question One of the Day:  Very few dates are mentioned in the Torah--but today is one of them!  Where is today’s date mentioned in the Torah?  Why is the date specifically mentioned in that Parsha and context?


Question Two of the Day:  Having just recited the Musaf Tefillos of the Shalosh Regalim for 7(EY) or 8 (Chutz LaAretz) days, we recall how we PLEADED TIME AND TIME AGAIN with Hashem for HIS RACHMANUS--His Mercy in finally and at long last rebuilding the Bais HaMikdash--as we recited:  “Melech Rachaman...U’Serachem Aleinu V’Ahl Mikdashecha BeRachamecha HaRabim...[and then reiterated a short while later] Melech Rachaman Rachem Aleinu...Bahamon Rachamecha....  Yet, in today’s Musaf for Rosh Chodesh, we make no heartrending appeal for mercy or even any request at all of Rachmanus in the Musaf bracha--instead only asking in a straightforward manner that the Mizbe’ach be rebuilt and that we be brought back to Yerushalayim where we can all rejoice together in the Bais Hamikdash.  Why is there such a difference between these two Tefillos of Musaf--what is the difference between the Shalosh Regalim and Rosh Chodesh in this regard?




Special Note One:  In fact, Rosh Chodesh Iyar is very much related to the Binyan Bais Hamikdash.  The Luach Dovor B’Ito brings that Shlomo HaMelech began the building of the First Bais HaMikdash today, and that construction of the foundation of the Second Bais HaMikdash also began today as well (See Ezra 3:8-13).  Let us now daven that today also prove to serve a role in the building of the Third and Lasting Bais HaMikdash.  Even if we see nothing immediately around us or in front of us, and even if we hear no shofar blast at this moment, let our acts of Teshuva today serve as a cornerstone for its Building.  Why leave the building to someone else when each and every one of us is so eminently capable?!  Let’s also begin building Today--it’s for Eternity!



Special Note Two:  One of the actions that we will take in the Bais HaMikdash that we are not very used to doing now is Hishtachava’ah--prostrating oneself to the ground.  Undoubtedly, this Hishtachava’ah will come in direct response to the intense Kedushah and Ruchniyus experienced upon entering and viewing the Kohanim and the Avodah.  Yet, in the Tefillah of Nishmas we do recite in the here and now--VeChol Koma Lefonecha Sishtachaveh--and every person standing up shall prostrate himself before you.  How can/do we fulfill this statement?  The Chassidic masters teach the following:  Even when one is ostensibly standing straight, he should feel inwardly as if he is bowed before Hashem--in recognition of Hashem’s greatness and mastery and one’s own humility--something that every person should recognize and appreciate--even without a Bais HaMikdash.  We may add that even when reciting the words VaAnachnu Koriim U’Mishtachavim in Aleinu three times daily, we should experience the moment--envisioning ourselves in an aura of submission and sanctity--so that we properly reflect the words that we are expressing.  In this merit--may we live to experience the ultimate Hishtachava’ah speedily and in our days!



Special Note Three:  The Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim (page 251) writes that our new month of Iyar is tried and tested as a time for refuah, healing, from the ailments and pains that may affect a person.  Why is this so?  He brings the B’nai Yisaschar, who teaches that most weakness and illness come from foods which do not comport with the person’s nature or composition.  The Rambam (Hilchos De’os 4:15 ) writes likewise.  See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter 32.

Since the Mon began to fall in this month (on the 16th day of Iyar 2448)--and it was a perfect food from which resulted no sickness, pain or even waste matter (as Dovid HaMelech refers to it in Sefer Tehillim--”lechem abirim”) and even cured those who were ill--Hashem left the curative nature of the month in effect even through today.  Accordingly, Iyar is a time of “segulah l’refuah”.  In fact, the Ta’amei HaMinhagim notes, the name “Iyar” is an acronym for Ani Hashem Rofecha--I am Hashem, Your Healer.


What can we do to help promote the curative effects of this special time as initiated by the heavenly Mon?  Let us reflect upon the following.  The Baalei Mussar note that one afflicted with Tzora’as does not ask others directly to pray for him--rather, “VeTameh Tameh Yikra”--he only exclaims that he is “Tameh”, and those who hear him are expected to pray sincerely for him even without his direct request--and notwithstanding that he has sinned to such a great extent that Hashem has actually made him a Metzora.  What a great lesson we can learn at this time of year--which is so special for healing, and, moreover, the Omer period, in which our “Bein Odom L’Chavero” is to be seriously improved upon.  We should not wait to be asked, or merely be responsive to the request of others, when we hear that someone is not well.  Instead, we should “hear the cry” and go out of our way during this auspicious time to daven for those we may not even know, but whom we have heard are in need of a Refuah.  An ounce of Tefillah may mean a kilogram of cure.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  During this special month, recite a daily special, sincere Kepitel (chapter) of Tehillim for your list of cholim--recognizing that this is a special time for the potency--and importance--of your heartfelt Tefillah!


Additional Note: A reader wrote the following to us:   Rabbi  Nachman of Breslov writes that the word IYAR is Roshei Taivos of the words  ”Oyvai Yoshuvu Yaivoshu Roga,” thus indicating that the month of IYAR is  conducive to see a Mapala for the enemies of K’lal Yisroel!” Hakhel Note: When reciting Tachanun during this month we should have especial Kavannah when reciting these words--that they come to immediate reality--with the events of the past week continuing into the present month!


Special Note Four:  As we begin this, the Ninth Month of the Year, we continue our program of especially emphasizing one Ani Ma’amin a month--this month with the Ninth Ani Ma’amin--that this Torah will not be exchanged, and that there will not be another Torah from the Creator.  Nothing will be added or subtracted--the Torah will never change.  When reciting this Ani Ma’amin, or Torah Tzivah Lanu Moshe, or when reciting Birchos Hatorah--recognize the Torah’s greatness--it is here now with you --TO BE AND TO REMAIN AS IT ALWAYS WAS--FOR ALL TIME!



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  Chazal teach that Chacham Adif MiNavi--a wise person is more than a Navi.  How?  In what way?



Special Note One:  In Parshas Kedoshim, the Torah teaches us “Lo Sisna Es Achicha Bilvavecha--you shall not hate your brother in your heart.” (Vayikra 19:17)  Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, provided his students with an incredible method of never getting close to hating another in his heart.  Rather than shouting back, retorting or otherwise taking an insult, unkind word, or unkind act of someone to heart, Rebbi Yisroel would recommend that one should instead immediately respond with a kind word or do a favor or nice deed to the person who had just wronged him.  In this way, the negative feelings could be immediately uprooted, and the person who acted or spoke ungraciously or inappropriately in the first place would have the opportunity to recant or change his tone or manner of communication to a more positive, pleasant and conciliatory one.  By one being Ma’avir Ahl Hamiddos in this special way--one not only improves his own middos, but incredibly also improves the middos of the person who otherwise wronged him as well!  In fact, this teaching follows very much in line with the words of the wisest of all men, Shlomo HaMelech, who teaches “Im Ra’av Sonecha Ha’achileihu Lechem--if your erstwhile enemy is hungry, provide him with bread to eat...” 


Additional Note:  Your practice of this great teaching will undoubtedly produce wonderful collateral results as well.  As those around you--especially family members-- will recognize the great benefit of reversing a potentially damaging event into an olive branch of peace--which turns out to be planted together!



Special Note Two:  In Parshas Kedoshim, the Torah also teaches “VeHiskadishtem Vehiysem Kedoshim--you shall make yourselves holy, and you shall be holy.”  (Vayikra 20:7 ).  HaRav Zalmen Sorotzkin, Z’tl, notes that we are not simply enjoined to make ourselves holy, but also to be holy.  This means, he writes in the Sefer Aznayim LaTorah, that whatever one undertakes to make himself holy should not be a one, two, or three-time type of pledge, but instead should be something that is in the category of Viheyisem Kedoshim--something that you always take with you wherever you go and whatever you do.  Part of one’s holiness is his dedication and commitment to its performance.  Whatever act it may be that one chooses to distinguish himself, it must be with the resolve to be and continuously remain a Kadosh in this regard.  Here is one simple example of what one can do in his effort to be a Kadosh:  HaRav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl, writes (Sefer Alei Shur, Vol. I, p. 112) that it is an Avodah Gedolah to recite 100 Brachos every day, for by doing so we remind ourselves 100 times a day that Hashem Elokeinu is the Melech HaOlam, and that he gives us all of the benefit that we mention in the Bracha, not to mention our body and soul, the Torah and the Mitzvos.  Nevertheless, HaRav Volbe continues, the Yesod of the 100 Brachos we are to recite each day is HaKaras HaTov--expressing thanks to Hashem as the source of all Bracha in one’s life.  May we therefore suggest that one consistent demonstration of ‘Veheyisem Kedoshim” may be that prior to reciting every Bracha, one flash the thought of ‘I have Hakaras HaTov to Hashem’ prior to making the Bracha.  In this way, hopefully 100 times a day, one will be on the beautifully paved road to Hakaras HaTov…and Veheyisem Kedoshim!



Special Note Three:  On the topic of Brachos, we provide an essential insight on the words in Al HaMichya:  “U’vnei Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh…V’nochal MiPirya V’nisba MiTuva U’Nevarechecha Aleha BiKedusha U’vetahara--please build Yerushalayim…and let us eat from its fruit, be satisfied with the fruit’s goodness, and [then] bless you for it in holiness and purity.”  The obvious question on these words is that Chazal did not permit fruit trees to be grown in Yerushalayim.  If so--how could one eat from “Yerushalayim’s fruit--what does the Bracha mean--what is it referring to?!  The commentaries explain that by “the fruits of Yerushalayim” we are not referring to fruit which actually grew there, but to the Ma’aser Sheini and Netta Re’vai that had to be brought to Yerushalayim to be eaten--and had to be consumed when a person was actually Tahor.  Thus, in this Bracha we are referring to the more spiritual fruits that we so look forward to partake of in the near future which will not be eaten at just any table or in just any way--but with the Yiras Shomayim that Ma’aser Sheini brings along with it (see Bava Basra 21A and Tosfos there)--and the Kedusha and Tahara that per se accompany it.  When reciting Al HaMichya daily, we should have Kavannah in these words and be uplifted by this warming dream which we so hope will soon be a pristine reality!



Special Note Four:  Chazal (Pesachim 118B) teach that a person’s Parnassa is as difficult as Kriyas Yam Suf.  Likewise, Chazal (Sanhedrin 22A) teach that finding one’s Zivug is as difficult as Kriyas Yam Suf.  What is the similarity, what is the common denominator between and among Kriyas Yam Suf, Parnassa, and a Zivug?  The commentaries explain that when the Bnei Yisroel were in front of the Yam Suf they looked to their right and their left, to their front and to their back, and saw no basis for a Yeshua whatsoever.  Most certainly, the sea splitting was not within the realm of possibility.  Similarly, one may look at his Parnassa and think that it is coming from this direction or that direction, from this client, that customer, this referral, or that deal--and then all or part of it may come from somewhere wholly unexpected.  With a Zivug as well, one may believe that the Shadchan who knows him very well, the family member dedicated to finding him a Shidduch, or the close friend who has many contacts, will be the source of his Bashert--only to find that it comes through an unexpected phone call from a friend in another city.  The common denominator, the uniting thread, is that it that it may be difficult for us to fully fathom that it is Hashem and only Hashem who will provide the Yeshua--whether at the sea, in Parnassa, or for the true Zivug, in a manner which He, and only He deems timely and proper, and through the Shelichim who He designates and selects.  Whatever situation we are in--whether it be surrounded by Mitzriyim and wild animals with a roaring sea in front of us, very much needing Parnassa, or looking for our Zivug to finally come, rather than look to our right or left, to our front and to our back--instead let us sincerely and earnestly look steadily up--and may Hashem then send the Yeshua that each of us need as beautifully and wonderfully as He did at the sea--during this time of year!



Special Note One:  A horrific Rasha was eliminated from our midst, and the announcement to the world of this fact was made on 28 Nissan, the date upon which the walls of Yericho fell at the seventh Hakafah of the Bnei Yisroel around the city.  Most certainly, a grand lesson to us all is that Hashem takes every deed into account, and rewards and punishes at such time and in such manner as He deems fit.  “We are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” is a quote of President Obama when announcing the Rasha’s pegira that flies squarely in the face of not only what we believe--but what we know.  It is Hashem and Hashem alone acting and in control from Aleph to Tof.  Additionally, Hashem has presented us with a graphic opportunity and display of how All of His Ways are Just, and that no one can hide himself or his deeds on the Day of Judgment.  He was responsible for the murder and destruction of the family life of tens of thousands, and has only begun to receive his eternal punishment.  We can learn that on our own personal level, LeHavdil, we will have our day on the things we do right, and the things we do wrong.  Doesn’t it make a lot of sense to turn the word of Lashon Hara about to be uttered into a conciliatory phrase or even a compliment, a Kavannah-less into a Kavanna-filled prayer, and a minute of Bittul Torah into minute of Talmud Torah.  Instead of wasting five minutes on something that you know is really needless, why not make a call to someone who needs Chizuk or think about Teshuva that needs to be done.  It is our life--it is precious, it is invaluable, it is everlasting, it is eternal--and it what we make of it! 


We asked a close Talmid of HaRav Moshe Wolfson, Shlita, how he felt the great Mashgiach would view these recent events.  He responded with a few points:


1.  It must be that the Sarim, the Heavenly representatives representing the various Yishmael parties are failing and falling, as a precursor for the Haramas Keren Yisroel;


2.  That this is a time U’Viarta HaRa’ah MeKirbecha--a time of ridding the world of each individual’s evil; and


3. Hashem is showing us an Ais Ratzon, and that we should wisely use it with improved Tefillah and increased Torah study.  ‘The wise man’s eyes are in his head’, and one should be using his head at this time to enhance his daily Avodas Hashem in a real and tangible way.  Every person knows something that he can do in the here and now to improve his daily life.



Special Note Two:  As we are now into the “Natural Events” season, we once again provide the following pertinent Halachos relating to the Brachos on these events--which serve to remind us that they are far from being “natural”.  The basis for the Halachos below is Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 227 and the Mishna Berurah there, the Sefer Shoneh Halachos and the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos on this Chapter in Shulchan Aruch.  We specifically note that one should, of course, consult with his Rav for the final Halacha.  We present the following for an understanding of the issues:


1.      When experiencing an earthquake, one recites the brocha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis--Who makes the work of Creation”.  It is also permissible to make the brocha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso Malei Olam--His strength and His power fill the universe”.  Piskei Teshuvos writes that the degree of the tremor is not necessarily relevant, as long as it is clearly felt.  HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, teaches that one should recite the Pasuk from Sefer Yeshaya (6:3) “V’Kara Zeh El Zeh V’Amar Kadosh…” three times, and the earthquake will cease.  Indeed, he brings that this Pasuk is specifically intended to cover the situation of an earthquake!


2.      On very strong winds, i.e., which winds which uproot either heavy objects or items attached to the ground or to buildings which would not ordinarily have been uprooted, one makes an “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis”.  On a hurricane (killer type of wind), the Piskei Teshuvos writes that one can make the Brocha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso”, but HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that in all events one should make the Brocha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis,” because we are not proficient as to the degree of wind that is necessary to make “Shekocho U’Gevuraso.”


3.      On lightning, and on thunder, one can make either “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis” or “Shekocho U’Gevuraso.”  However, the custom is to make the Brocha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis” on lightning, and the Brocha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso” on thunder.  We note that in many Sephardic communities, the custom may be to recite these Brochos without “Shem U’Malchus” (i.e., skipping from Baruch to “Oseh” or Baruch to “Shekocho”).


4.      If one sees lightning and hears thunder simultaneously, he makes one Brocha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis” on both (he would also be yotzei with the Brocha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso” on both as well).


5.      One does not make a Brocha on lightning which comes only from heat.  If one is unsure of the source of the lightning, he should wait until he hears thunder.  Then, he makes one Brocha--Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis--if he experiences them together (as noted in the previous paragraph).  However, if he does not experience them together--for example, if he then hears thunder without simultaneous lightning, he makes a Brocha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso,” and then when he sees lightning (again) he makes the Brocha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis.”

6.      If one already had commenced making a Brocha on lightning and then, while making that Brocha, he heard thunder, he must make a second Brocha on the thunder later (once again, within two to three seconds after hearing the thunder).  The same would, of course, be true if he had already begun to make a Brocha on thunder, and then saw lightning--he would make a second Brocha on lightning within two or three seconds after seeing it again later.


7.       There is a Machlokes among the Poskim as to whether one has to see the actual lightning bolt in order to make the Brocha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis” (HaRav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, for instance, holds that one must see the bolt).  Many Poskim (including HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and the Zitz Eliezer, Z’tl) rule that one need not see the bolt itself and that, accordingly, one can make the Brocha of “Oseh Maaseh Beraishis” when merely seeing the light flash--and not the actual bolt in the sky.


8.      Once again, one must make the Brocha within two to three seconds after seeing the lightning or hearing the thunder.  Accordingly, if one came out of the bathroom and washed his hands, and then saw lightning or heard thunder, he should immediately make the Brocha before reciting Asher Yotzar (usually one must be careful to recite the Brocha of Asher Yotzar immediately after coming out of the bathroom).


      Because one must make the Bracha so soon after experiencing the lightning or thunder, one may find himself in the midst of Tefillah, and an important issue becomes whether one should interrupt his prayers in order not to miss the Bracha and Hisoreirus opportunity which will quickly pass.  Once again, one should consult with his Rav on any particular Shaila, we provide here Halachos as excerpted from the Siddur Kavanas Hashem (Yerushalayim:


Permitted interruptions in Tefillah to make the Bracha over lightning and thunder:


A.     During Pesukei DeZimra (except while reciting Baruch Atta Hashem Melech MeHulal Batishbachos, or Baruch Atta Hashem Kel Melech Gadol BaTishbachos…)


B.     In between (not during) Brachos of Kriyas Shema, or in between (not during) the first and second and second and third Chapters of Kriyas Shema.


Non-permitted interruptions in Tefillah to make the Bracha over lightning and thunder--i.e., do not make the Bracha at these times:


A.     After having made the Bracha on the Tefillin Shel Yad, and before completing placement of the Tefillin Shel Rosh.


B.     In the middle of one of the Birchas Kriyas Shema, or in the middle of any Chapter of Shema.


C.     In Shemone Esrei, and even in the middle of Elokai Netzor at the end of Shemone Esrei until after Yehiyu LeRatzon Imrei Phee.


D.     When in the middle Birchas HaMazon.


E.      When in the middle of a making a Bracha (even long Brachos such as Asher Yatzar or HaMa’avir Sheina)


9.      If one mistakenly made a Brocha over a flash of light or a thundering noise thinking that it was thunder or lightning (such as an airplane passing overhead at night), he would have to make the appropriate Brochos when he actually hears thunder or sees lightning later.


10.  One can assume (unless there is a basis to believe otherwise) that one’s hands are clean, and he does not have to wash them in order to recite the Brocha.


11.  Although not absolutely required by Halacha, it is preferable that one stands when making these two Brochos.


12.  One makes the Brocha over lightning and thunder only one time a day during the same storm.  If the sky completely clears up, and new storm clouds come in, then one makes new Brochos over lightning and thunder even a second time during the day.


13.   If a storm had commenced the previous day or even the previous evening, and has still not cleared up by the time one arises the next morning, one would make new Brochos the next morning after daybreak.  In other words, the evening and the next morning are considered two separate days for the Brochos over lightning and thunder (just like Birchos HaTorah)--so that one would make new Brochos upon hearing lightning and thunder when awakening the next morning.


14.  We should in all events remember that Chazal (Brochos 59A) teach that thunder was invented only to “straighten out the crookedness in the heart,” and thank Hashem for the ordinary and extraordinary events that take place every day--and for our ability to understand and appreciate them!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  The Ben Ish Chai raises the following question.  There are ten birds on a roof.  A hunter shoots and kills four of the birds.  How many birds are left on the roof?


In fact, the Ben Ish Chai writes, there will be four birds left on the roof, because the other six would have flown away because of the gunshot fire.  The analogy he draws is to money that a person spends in this world.  The money that is well-spent on Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim flies nowhere--it will remain with the person forever and ever.  On the other hand, money improperly spent or squandered flies away and has no everlasting--or even lasting--relationship with the person.  Let us take the Ben Ish Chai’s thought a step further.  How could money which is appears to be a purely material, Olam Hazeh kind of item be transported into Olam Haba?  HaRav Aaron Kotler, Z’tl, teaches that the “Kedoshim Ti’heyu” required by last week’s Parsha is not the holiness of Malochim or of people who separate themselves from others, but rather it is elevating the materialism of Olam Hazeh to Kedusha of Olam Haba.  Money, then, becomes an invaluable resource--a source of Kedusha for our Olam Haba--all based upon how we use it in this world.  To some, money is a source of evil.  To others, it is a necessary evil.  To us, however, it is and should be a source of eternity.  Every dollar for a Mitzvah, every check for Tzedaka is a fulfillment of a Kedoshim Ti’heyu--which will last forever! 




Special Note One:  In concluding our discussion of Parshas Kedoshim we provide the following essential teaching from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin on judging favorably:


“In Jerusalem there is a group that regularly discusses practical ways to judge people favorably.  A member of the group gives true-to-life situations, and everyone else offers explanations that would present the person involved in a favorable light.  For instance:


1) You didn’t receive an invitation to a wedding:


a) Perhaps the person was under the impression that he had already sent you an invitation.

b) Perhaps he sent it to you and it was lost in the mail.

c) Perhaps he can’t afford to invite many people.


2) You are standing at a bus stop with a heavy load of packages, and a neighbor drives by in an empty car and does not offer you a ride:


a) Perhaps he was only going a short distance.

b) Perhaps he has already committed himself to pick up some other people.

c) Perhaps he had a problem that weighed on his mind so heavily that he couldn’t think of anything else.


3) You were hoping that someone would invite you to his house, but he failed to do so:


a) Perhaps someone in his family is ill.

b) Perhaps he was planning to be away from home.

c) Perhaps he did not have enough food in the house.


Rabbi Pliskin concludes:  By judging someone favorably, even if your assumption is wrong, you still fulfill a Torah commandment!  Hakhel Note: Let’s Go!



Special Note Two:  The Lelover Rebbe teaches that when we are careful to make sure that no Chometz gets into our Seforim during the course of the year (such as by making sure they stay clean or are cleaned after use at the table), we fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of the Torah of “LeMa’an Tizkor Es Yom Tzeisicha MeiEretz Mitzrayim Kol Yemei Chayecha--that you remember the day of your departure from Mitzrayim all the days of your life” (Devarim 16:3).  Hakhel Note:  How blessed we are--even when sweeping crumbs we perform eternal Mitzvos Asei! 



Special Note Three:  At the end of our Shemone Esrei we ask that Hashem be Sim Shalom--establish or place peace on our behalf.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah by Rabbi Meyer Birnbaum, Shlita, provides us with a moment of insight when reciting the word ‘Shalom’:  ‘Shalom’ is not a general, amorphous, or esoteric term.  Rather, it refers specifically to “Shalom HaGuf, VeHabayis, VeHamedina, VeHakinyanim--Mikol Pegah Mikrah U’Machlokes--Peace for one’s: body; home; country(or people); and property from any occurrence, event, or dispute.  Shalom is a very important and a very loaded word.  When we recite it we should use it--and mean it--as such!



Special Note Four:  As we continue through this month of Geulah, and move towards the Geulah of Shavuos (which is the fourth Kos of Velakachti), we recall the words of Rashi on an essential Pasuk that we may recite several times daily:  Yimloch Hashem LeOlam Elokaich Tzion LeDor VaDor Haleluka” (Tehillim 146: 10).  There, Rashi comments “Yekayem Es Malchuso BeShemiras Bonov.”  Hashem views His Kingship in terms of us.  If we are guarded and protected, if we are happy, if we are successful, then His Kingship is also successful and established.  When we are downtrodden and forlorn, Hashem’s Malchus is negatively impacted as well.  Thus, when we exclaim Yimloch Hashem LeOlam, we are asking for our position to be elevated so that Hashem’s Malchus can be fully and appropriately established.  We should certainly take comfort in the fact that Hashem’s position in the world works together with ours, and that our roles can improve together!


Additional Note:  In many of our Tefillos, we recite “Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu--our G-d and G-d of our forefathers.”  Chronologically and from a perspective of honor and respect, it would appear that we should first begin “Elokei Avoseinu -and then--V’Elokeinu.  Perhaps the lesson to us is that without first recognizing and establishing our own personal and close relationship with Hashem, the relationship Hashem had with the Avos is not really so relevant.  When we recite the Bracha of Go’al Yisroel--Who redeemed Yisroel (after Kriyas Shema in the morning and evening), we recognize that Hashem redeemed our forefathers in the past, and can/will therefore redeem us again in the Ultimate Redemption Bimheyra BeYameinu  .  However, when we recite the Bracha of Go’el Yisroel (in Shemone Esrei three times daily), we proclaim that Hashem can/will and is redeeming us directly in the here and now.  In these last few days of Chodesh Nissan, let us work on intensifying our personal relationship with Hashem, so that His Malchus, and His Geulah, is personal to us as well.  We can begin by concentrating on the Pasuk of “Yimloch Hashem LeOlam” when recited in our Tefillos, as well as by reciting the Bracha of Go’el Yisroel--Hashem is redeeming me-- with special recognition and intensity--at least in the month of Iyar--connecting the Geulah of Nissan to the Geulah of Shavuos!


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