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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin


22 Sivan

KIRUV CARDS: There are several important Jewish websites which can provide useful and non-challenging information to our unaffiliated and uneducated brethren.  You may simply suggest in a courteous and pleasant conversation to one who you realize needs to learn more that he/she browse any of the following sites:  Ohr.edu, simpletoremember.com, beingjewish.com, or aish.com.  A related and useful site is jewishresourcecard.com, which provides information as to how one can obtain a personal study partner for free, or learn about weekend retreats and live events.  In order to obtain ‘Kiruv-cards’, in which these websites are listed and which you can have available to hand out after meetings and other occasions, please call:  718-501-2110. For further information, please visit www.kiruvcards.com



BRACHOS QUESTION AND ANSWER: We were asked the following “Summer Brachos Question”, and in turn we posed it to Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos:


Q: Someone who bikes for a couple of hours and drinks from a water bottle every so often while biking, does he recite a bracha rishona and achrona every time he drinks.

A: Yes. He should make a new brocha rishona every time he drinks, and a brocha achrona (if he drinks a revi’is within the appropriate time span) after each drink.  See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 190, seif katan 8 and Halachos of Brochos, p. 162-163.



FROM A READER:  “Which is the only Pasuk in the Torah that begins and ends with the same three words?” Hakhel Hint: It is in this week’s Parsha!



FROM A READER: For your ‘Automobile Opportunities for the Torah Jew’ list: Make it a point not to look into other people’s cars--even if they pull up next to you at a light (and even if you can tell they are looking into your car!).  Additionally, when at a light, don’t scan the streets and sidewalks around you--in all likelihood you will be seeing things that you don’t want to see!


Hakhel Note:  We may definitely state that these suggestions should not be limited to a person driving (or passengers in the car)--but to pedestrians on the street walking as well. Most certainly, as the summer begins to warm in the Northern Hemisphere, the Torah Jew’s approach should be to keep his head down and pre-occupy himself with meaningful thoughts--until he reaches his destination. Oh, how many Mitzvos will be accomplished--and aveiros avoided. 



THE THOUGHT DOES COUNT! The Sefer Ahavas Chesed (Chapter 21) writes that by hiring Torah Jews to perform tasks in and about one’s home or business, or for any other service, one fulfills the Mitzvah DeOraysa of ‘VeHeChezakta Bo’.  Moreover, the Chofetz Chaim adds, that one with Bitachon in Hashem should realize that Hashem will give him special Hatzlacha in the house that he is building or fixing, or in the trip that he is taking, utilizing this worker, which is far over and above the Olam Haba that he will earn for this thoughtful and care-filled deed!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn of the Menachos and Nesachim--the meal and wine offerings that must accompany every Korban.  The Seforno (Bamidbar 15:3) explains why the Halachos of the meal and wine offerings are placed in the Parsha--it is because after the Cheit HaEgel, every Korban Tzibbur was required to have these offerings accompany them, and after the Cheit HaMeraglim every Korban Yachid was required to have the meal and wine accompaniments.  What is the connection between the meal and wine offerings and these two great sins--how do the Menachos and Nesachim of a Korban Tzibbur help to effect a Kappara for the Cheit HaEgel and how do the Menachos and Nesachim of a Korban Yachid help to effect a Kappara for the Cheit HaMeraglim?



ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK:  As we quiver from the details of this week's Parsha, we provide several questions, and would very much welcome your responses: 


1.  Rashi brings that Moshe Rabbeinu changed Yehoshua's name from Hoshea to Yehoshua davening for him "Kah Yoshiacha Mai'Atzas Meraglim--Hashem should save you from the Meraglim's plot."  If Moshe Rabbeinu knew of the plot--why did he send the Meraglim out?  Also, why did he only daven for Yehoshua--and apparently not even for Kalev or anyone else?


2.  The people admitted that they sinned with the word "chatanu"-and even were apparently ready to be moser nefesh and battle their way into Eretz Yisrael, going up the mountain to do so.  Why was their Teshuva not accepted?


3.  Why do Chazal learn out that for a Davar She'Bikedusha we need a Minyan of 10 men from the 10 Meraglim--who are called an Aida Ra'ah--an evil congregation?  why do we learn good from evil?


4.  Why did Yehoshua send out Meraglim to Yericho after the horrific result of the first Meraglim--especially since he was so directly familiar with what happened ?


5.  Chazal teach that one who is careful in the Mitzvah of Tzitzis will have 700 servants on each corner of his beged--for a total of 2,800.  Why does one need so many servants?


6.  Why was Rochov zocha to house the Meraglim, save herself and her family and even eventually marry Yehoshua Bin Nun?




Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. [We note that we were unable to coordinate receipt of Rabbi Webster’s Hilchos Borer Shailos U’Teshuvos this week, and sincerely look forward to continuing them next week!]


A. Shabbos Kodesh is the 23rd day of Sivan--which is one of those special days especially mentioned in Tanach.  Many of you may remember where.  In Megillas Esther (8:9), the Pasuk records that on the 23rd day of the 3rd month--“Hu Chodesh Sivan” (which is the month of Sivan)--the king’s scribes wrote all that Mordechai had dictated to them.  While we may not have the exact text of what was written other than that the Jews could destroy their enemies, we do know that Achashveirosh had additionally permitted them to write in the letters--“Katov Be’Eynechem--whatever is favorable in your eyes, and in the name of the king…”


The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes the following about this very special day:


1. One should try to recite the relevant Pesukim in Esther (Esther 8:3-17).


2. In the name of the Makover Rebbe, Zt’l, the day is mesugal for nisim v’niflaos, as implied by the Pasuk referred to above--“Now, write [on this day] about the Jews what is favorable in your eyes in the name of the king”--which also refers to the King of the world.  Thus, just as Mordechai subsequently left the king with many royal garments (ibid., 8:15 )…so can we!


3. In 1940, the Russian government told thousands of Jewish refugees in Eastern Galicia that they could register as Russian citizens.  Rebbe Itzikel of Antwerp, Z’tl, advised them not to register.  On the night of the 23rd of Sivan, the Russians exiled to Siberia all those who had not registered as Russian citizens.  The exiled thought this to be a horrible decree, but the Rebbe told them that the 23rd of Sivan is “Muchan L’Tova--prepared for the good,” and that no bad would come out of their exile.  A year later, in Sivan 1941, the Nazis, ym’s, invaded Eastern Galicia and killed the Jews who remained--the exiles to Siberia remained alive.


Let us harness the powers inherent in this day, through our own personal Torah, Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka so that the King writes beautiful letters on our personal behalf, and on behalf of all of K’lal Yisroel!


Hakhel  Note:  One may question why it took 70 days--from the 13th of Nissan when the First Letters were issued, to the 23rd of Sivan--when the Second Letters which nullified them, to be issued.  After all, was not Haman hanged on the sixteenth of Nissan--just several days after the First Letters were issued.  What took so long?! Why were the Jews still subject to the scary decree for over two months after Haman was taken care of?!  In fact, Chazal (Yerushalmi Sotah 8A) answer the question, somewhat enigmatically.  Chazal there explain that the 70-day period in which the First Letters were extant was k’neged--seemingly, in payment or exchange for--the 70 days that the Egyptians performed Chesed with Yaakov Avinu--from the time he was niftar and all the way through the time they escorted him to his final burial in Meoras HaMachpaila. This Chazal requires elucidation.  What do the Mitzriyim have to do with the decree by the Persians?  What does the Chesed of Yaakov Avinu have to do with our nation being in danger and fear for 70 days?  What is the significance of 70 days?  We welcome your insights and explanations!


B. Now moving back to Shabbos Kodesh itself--the following remarkable lesson is found in the Sefer Nichusah Shel Torah (the teachings of HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Z’tl): Chazal (Shabbos 10B) teach that Hashem refers to the Shabbos as a “Matana Tova--a Good Present”.  What meaning should this have to us? The following is a true story that happened in the Shul in Petersburg , Russia , in which the members were all extremely wealthy contractors for the Czar in various industries. It was Yom Kippur, and Pesicha L’Neilah was being sold to the highest bidder. The bidding opened at the high sum of 500 rubles. Baron Ginsberg decided to put an end to the bidding--announcing that he bid 2,000 rubles--which was an astronomical sum--the equivalent of hundreds of thousand dollars in today’s terms. The hushed crowd immediately assumed that the bidding was over.  However, suddenly another voice was heard--it was that of Baron Pollak, who was a Jew who only attended Shul ‘three times a year’: “I bid 2,500 rubles!” Silence. Baron Pollak won the bid! The crowd was stunned. Pesicha L’Neilah was being sold for what was the equivalent of many hundreds of thousands of dollars--to a Jew who attended Shul only on the Yomim Noraim! If that was not enough, Baron Pollak then turned to his neighbor and said: “What is Pesicha L’Neila?” His neighbor, incredulous, asked him:  “You bought Pesicha L’Neilah for 2,500 rubles--and you do not even know what it is?!” Baron Pollak responded: “All I know is that if a seasoned merchant and businessman like Baron Ginsberg bid 2,000 rubles for it--it is well worth the 2,500 rubles that I spent!” Now let us turn to the Chazal:  Hashem Himself calls Shabbos a Matana Tova. Who knows better than Hashem, the Creator, Master and Controller of everything in the World what a good present is?! Oh--how we should appreciate the Shabbos! HaRav Shapiro adds that in the Shabbos davening we recite:  V’Lo Nesato Hashem Elokeinu LeGoyei Ha’aratzos--Hashem did not give Shabbos to the nations of the world.” What is the chiddush in this? After all, the nations did not receive any of the 613 Mitzvos in the Torah that are directed to the Jews?! The explanation, Rav Shapiro teaches, is that aside from the Mitzvah, the nations do not benefit MiSegulasah U’Mishefa Birchasah U’Kedushasah--from the abundance, the bracha and the Kedusha of the Shabbos in and of itself--which we bask in for free each and every Shabbos. What a treasure! What a gift!


C.  One other lesson-filled incident from the Nichusah Shel Torah:  When HaRav Shapiro was visiting Lakewood one year, thousands of Bnei Torah came to greet him at a Shabbos Kiddush. HaRav Shapiro made Kiddush and would not proceed any further until he was absolutely assured that his Rebbetzin had received wine from Kiddush.  Literally thousands of people were waiting to make sure that the Rebbetzin received the wine! HaRav Shapiro noticed that those around him were very surprised--why was this so important, why should thousands of people be waiting just to make sure that this happened? HaRav Shapiro explained: “Do you think that the requirement to honor one’s spouse that is found in Chazal is simply that--only a requirement? That is not Chazal’s intent--simply to impose an obligation of honor. No, the explanation is that a person must have such strong feelings of Hakaras HaTov to his spouse, that it should emanate from the depths of his heart--and he should recognize that everything that he has is in his spouse’s zechus.  When Rebbi Akiva said (Nedarim 50A): ‘Sheli V’Shelachem Shelah He--that which we have belongs to her’--he was not speaking in a metaphor--he meant it! Hakhel Note: After HaRav Shapiro would cut the challah every Shabbos, he would stand up from his seat, walk over to where the Rebbetzin was sitting and place the challah in front of her--not using a basket, a plate or someone else to do so. Such was his feeling of Hakaras HaTov to her! Shabbos Kiddush and the Shabbos Seudah can be a place for each and every one of us to express our heartfelt Hakaras HaTov to our spouse and others as well in many beautiful ways!



Special Note Two:  Such an essential lesson of the Parsha, is the disaster that the sin of Lashon Hara wreaks upon the person and the community. Accordingly, we provide the following important guidelines:


A.  From the Sefer Hilchos Lashon Hara U’Rechilus by Rabbi Kalmen Krohn, Shlita:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


B.  One does not ordinarily associate Lashon Hara with a horrific crime. The cheit of the Meraglim teaches otherwise. The Chofetz Chaim points out that when the Kohein Gadol comes into the Kodesh HaKadashim for the first time on Yom Kippur he must light the ketores--to remove the cheit of Lashon Hara from K’lal Yisrael--before he undertakes any other Kapparah process. Without doing so--the process simply cannot begin and no Kapparah would be accomplished!! The Chofetz Chaim then turns to those who cannot appreciate this clear lesson and pleads simply with them as follows (we paraphrase): One has only a certain amount of time in this world from which he gains eternity which is infinite. It is silly enough to waste moments which could be used for eternity on foolish chatter. It is terrible to do so on words of sin…. Let your mouth be your greatest tool to achieve eternity!


C. There is an especially moving S’forno (Bamidbar 1:2) who writes that not only did the Jewish people suffer from the sin of the Meraglim, but that the Canaanim, who were the then inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel, suffered immensely as well--for if Bnei Yisroel would not have sinned at that time, they would have entered the land immediately, and the Canaanim would simply have been chased out, as their sins had not yet reached the level for which they deserved death.  As a result of the 40-year delay, their sins continued to accrue and compound, and, as a result by the time of Bnei Yisrael’s arrival, they (except for the Girgashi) all deserved to be killed.  Because they were killed, all of their future generations were never born into the world.  Thus, the S’forno concludes, Loshon Hara destroys not only the lives of those immediately involved, but by its very nature, destroys the world.  Similarly, the S’forno writes, because the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed as a result of Loshon Hara, the entire world fell spiritually, and continues to exist in a spiritually-bereft state. 


There is one additional, important and very beneficial point we can make.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that if one has spoken Loshon Hora, and the Loshon Hara has been accepted, then the speaker must ask forgiveness from whom he has spoken about (i.e., the victim) in order to do Teshuva.  HOWEVER, if the person listening does not accept, and in fact, rejects, the words of Loshon Hora, then the words have had no damaging effect, and the sin remains one of Bain Odom L’Makom, so that the Teshuva process need not include the embarrassment of asking a victim of Loshon Hora for forgiveness (see Sefer Chofetz Chaim, Hilchos Loshon Hara 4:12).  It behooves us, then, to always be on the alert not to be Mekabel—not to accept, and in fact, reject--Loshon Hora so that you not only avoid hurting the victim, but actually eventually help the former culprit in his Teshuva process as well!



Special Note Three: Additional Points and Pointers on the Parsha:


A. When a challenging situation or event presents itself--a person is faced with a choice. One can rise to the occasion, or sink from it. The Meraglim teach us how devastating not rising can be. Let us take a step back. Even before leaving Mitzrayim, we were advised that Eretz Yisrael was an “Eretz Zavas Chalav U’Devash” (Shemos 3:17 ). The Bnei Yisrael then witnessed the Makkos (and Bnei Yisrael’s salvation from them), the miracles at Yam Suf, Matan Torah, the miracles in the desert, the Mishkan….All the Meraglim had to do was take their mission as the next, very logical step. Instead, they toppled.  From them, we should learn that the challenges to our Emunah and Bitachon, whether daily or uncommon, whether ordinary or extraordinary--must be overcome and rejected as nonsense and out-of-hand--as we rise to the occasion in each and every instance!


B. Rashi teaches us that the Meraglim began their argument with something true (the land is “Zavas Cholov U’Devash”), for without some truth the falsity could never have taken root (Bamidbar 13:27 ).  If only the Meraglim had continued with the truth…world history would have been so different--imagine (in fact, it is beyond our imagination) all the wars, tzaros, strife and travail we have gone through for over 3,300 years.  What can we do now to stop it?  Many things are possible.  Here is a simple suggestion which you may not have tried before--pick a day (today or tomorrow, so as not to forget) in which you will be especially careful to speak the truth--and only the truth--no exaggerations, no stretches, no “you know what I mean,” and certainly no white-lies.  Perhaps we can do our part to demonstrate to Hashem that, once and for all we want to overturn the Chait HaMeraglim--and get us all out of this Galus.  See how you do--and--thank you from all of us!




21 Sivan

CHESED FROM THE BEGINNING  HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Z’tl, brings the Chazal that teaches that the Torah begins with Chesed and ends with Chesed.  Where does it begin with Chesed?  Chazal say it is with Hashem’s clothing of Adam and Chava after their cheit.  HaRav Scheinberg pointedly asks:  “Wasn’t there so much Chesed before Hashem clothed Adam and Chava?  After all, didn’t Hashem just create a whole wide world, with everything that Adam and Chava needed to live for free within it--and with them at the top?  Wasn’t that an infinitely greater Chesed?!  HaRav Scheinberg answers that the Chesed of clothing them came after the stark and shocking rebellion of Adam and Chava against Hashem.  Even after this great offense, Hashem nevertheless bestowed Chesed upon them, covering their shame-- a disgrace which was the direct result of their rebelliousness!  We, too, HaRav Scheinberg teaches, should also be sure to do Chesed to those who do not appear at all to deserve any Chesed from us as well.  By doing so, we will follow the FIRST chesed attributed to Hashem in the Torah! 



GRANOLA BARS REMINDER:  Rabbi Belsky and Rabbi Bodner both rule that the proper bracha rishona on Nature Valley Granola Bars is Borei Pri Ha’adoma.  Rabbi Bodner adds that the bracha achrona is problematic--as it theoretically may require a bracha achrona of Ahl Ha’adoma Ve’ahl Pri Ha’adoma (see Brachos 37A, Tosafos d’h’ Hakosses), but the text of this bracha does not exist.  Since we have no text for such a brocha, the Shulchan Aruch brings that a yorei shomayim should only eat a product such as this during the course of a bread meal to avoid the need to make a bracha achrona (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 208: 4; and Mishna Berurah ibid., seif katan 17); otherwise, the ‘default’ bracha achrona would be Borei Nefashos. Alternatively, one can eat less than a k’zayis, which will avoid the need to make a bracha acharona (e.g., Nature Valley packages contain 2 granola bars. Eat less than ¾ of one of those bars, wait 6 minutes before eating another ¾.) (see Halachos of K’zayis by Rabbi Bodner, p. 130). Rabbi Bodner rules that a child need not classify himself as a yorei shomayim and could accordingly eat a shiur and recite a Borei Nefashos.



FROM A READER: “For your ‘Automobile Opportunities for the Torah Jew’ list: 


(1)  I had begun saying “Thank You, Hashem” whenever I would come to a green light, especially at difficult intersections.  Then it was pointed out to me that I could add David HaMelech’s great advice (Tehillim 81:11): ‘Harchev Picha Va’amal’aiyhu--open wide your mouth and I will fill it.’  The footnote in the Artscroll Tehillim enlarges:  ‘Harchev Picha --open wide your mouth, with requests, and I will fulfill them.’  Hashem urges K’lal Yisrael to ask of Him all that its heart desires (Ibn Ezra).  By asking Hashem for everything that he needs, a person demonstrates his faith that Hashem’s power and generosity know no bounds (Yerushalmi, Ta’anit 3:6).  So now every time I say Thank You, Hashem, I also add a bakasha because I trust that Hashem can give me what I want or need (if it’s good for me!). 


(2)  I have heard of people who will offer a short Tefillah whenever an emergency vehicle goes past with sirens blaring--that the person in the ambulance have a Refuah Shleimah, or the fire not end up being serious and that no life will be harmed or lost.


(3) Many of my friends report that listening to Torah tapes while driving helps them to not react with Middos Lo Tovos (road rage) to the traffic situations around them.”




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 140 and 141:


140. Shelo Yikach Kohen Gerusha--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a Kohen from marrying a woman who had been previously divorced. MiD’Rabbanan, a Kohen cannot marry a chalutzah as well. If a Kohen marries either a zonah, chalalah, or gerusha, he receives makkos.


141. Shelo Yitameih Kohen Lameis--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a Kohen from becoming defiled by a deceased person--whether by touching him (or his blood), forming a ‘tent’ over him, carrying him, or touching a grave. If a Kohen does so intentionally, he receives makkos. However, for a Meis Mitzvah, a Kohen does defile himself. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, for male Kohanim who are kesheirim (not chalalim), but does not apply to a female--a bas Kohen.



Special Note Two: During this pivotal week between the misdeed of Miriam and the cheit of the Meraglim, we continue with our thoughts on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon: 


1. The Sefer Orchos Tzadikim in the Sha’ar HaTeshuva, quotes from the Sefer Rokeach as follows:  “How does one do Teshuva for Rechilus or the like?  Rechilus has no remedy, unless one asks forgiveness of the person offended, and one fasts for 40 days or more and receives lashes every day. [Furthermore], he should recall his misdeed by reciting Vidui every day, and he should focus upon all Mitzvos in general--and making peace between man and his fellow and man and his wife in particular.”  Although this type of Teshuva may be something beyond our realm, it is important for us to get an idea of how severe Lashon Hara and Rechilus really is.  If nothing else, we should shake ourselves before allowing that offhand quip, witticism or ‘can’t hold it in’ comment to leave our lips.  After all, is it worth what a Rishon (the Sefer Rokeach) tells us requires 40 days of fasting and more--in order to rectify?


2. In Power of Words, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, provides the following outstanding guidance: “If you were to see a painting that was considered to be masterpiece painted by one of the most famous artists of all time, you would not be able to throw mud at it.  Your respect for the artist and his painting would not allow you to soil his work of art.  Having an awareness that each human being is the creation of the Creator of the universe will give you a similar respect for people. Keep asking yourself, “If I were to sincerely view this person am now talking to as created in the image of the Almighty, how would I speak to him?” The next step is to actually try this out.  Even if you haven’t as yet reached this level, act for a while “as if” you were.  After speaking this way for a period of time it will become natural to you. This is especially important to do with those people you presently do not talk to as you should. Make a list of people you will do this with.”


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


4.  The Pasuk (Shoftim 6:14 ) teaches us that Hashem told Gideon:  Leich Bechochacha Zeh Vehoshata Es Yisrael--go with this strength and you will save the Bnei Yisrael.”  What was this strength?  Chazal explain that it was his Limud Zechus on Klal Yisrael--he asked Hashem to look at things in their favor, and not blame them for what they had done.  In this zechus, he was chosen to lead Bnei Yisrael out of the Midyanite oppression!  We understand from this important teaching of Chazal just how important it is to be melamed zechus on our family members, our friends and on others.  We, too, can help to be a Moshi’an Shel Yisrael!

Additional Note:  The Chofetz Chaim (in the name of the Sefer Chareidim) explains that one who is melamed zechus on others is zoche to the light of a Heichal HaKedusha called the Heichal HaZechus--a place in Shomayim where the zechusim of Yisrael are mentioned.  Be one of those who bask in this light!




20 Sivan

FROM A READER:  “Please add the following to your list of Automobile Opportunities for the Torah Jew: Buckling up and teaching kids to buckle up is V’nishmartem Me’od L’nafshoseichem!”




Special Note One:  One other point from the wonderful Sefer by Rabbi Castle we referred to yesterday:  Rabbi Castle emphasizes that according to the majority view, the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha is not only fulfilled in deed, but in attitude.  This means that by feeling the love and the oneness with another, at any time of the day or night, which can be done even in unclean places, he has fulfilled a Mitzvah Keyumis of the Torah.  One need not waste his time anywhere--he can be thinking of Shidduchim for another, how he can help his friend or neighbor--or even simply feel the pain or enjoy the happiness of your friend or acquaintance.  As the Sefer Ha’Ikrim concludes--loving your fellow is like loving yourself, for the Gematria of the word Ahava (love) is 13, which is the same Gematria as the word Echad (one)!



Special Note Two:  During this pivotal week between the misdeed of Miriam and the cheit of the Meraglim, we continue with our thoughts on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon. The Chofetz Chaim quotes the following five powerful words from the Sha’ar HeKedusha of HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl:  Behazkircha Ro’as Chaveircha Yisapru Avonosecha--when you mention something negative about your friend, in Heaven they mention your sins.”  The Chofetz Chaim writes that the converse is also true, and that regarding a mouth which does not have the cheit of Lashon Hara associated with it the satan will not be able to be mekatreig. What an incredible opportunity--rather than empowering the satan--rendering him powerless--through the beautiful Mitzvah of Shemiras HaLashon! 



Special Note Three:  Today (the 20th of Sivan) is the very day, described in Parshas BeHa’alosecha, that the 30-day stay at Kivros HaTa’ava ended.  We might think, then, that it is an auspicious time for great events to occur.  And it most likely is.  However, to date, two great tragedies are marked by this date.  First, the Second Crusades in France took place.  More recently, the 1648-1649 Cossack Massacres (known as the Gezeiros Tach V’Tat) in the Ukraine/Poland are specifically marked on this date.  The Rabbonim of the time required all able-bodied women over 15 and men over 18, to fast and recite special Selichos known as the “Selichos of the 20th of Sivan.”  In fact, it is recorded that this day was especially chosen because it can never (under our current calendar) come out on Shabbos, and the Rabbonim wanted to make sure that a year did not go by without properly remembering and repenting on this date. 


It is well known that the Tosfos Yom Tov, HaRav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, Z’tl, attributed the Cossack Massacres to talking in Shul.  He accordingly composed a special Mi She’Berach to be recited on behalf of those who refrained from talking in Shul, which is recited to this very day.  The text of the Mi She’Berach can be viewed by clicking here.


A true story which we have repeated in the past, and which should trouble us every time we read it:  A young man had arrived early to shul, and, realizing that there was not yet a minyan, he took out his cell phone and began to have a friendly telephone conversation.  When an onlooker said, “Shmoozing--in Shul--on a cell phone?!?”  He responded, “What’s the difference between talking to a friend, and talking on the phone?”  The absurdity of talking on the cell phone in Shul did not strike him, but then again, he seemed pretty comfortable with engaging in ordinary conversation with his friend there, as well.  The young man did, however, comport with the onlooker’s request.  In this regard, we suggest that every reader take part in helping build a new or higher level of decorum and respect in his/her Shul.  Perhaps one can begin with a sincere remark (NOT “SHUSH”) to a thoughtless congregant, or requesting the institution of the Tosfos Yom Tov’s bracha, given by the Rabbi or Gabbai.  Let us never forget that, according to the Tosfos Yom Tov, one of the Gedolei HaDor at the time of the gezeiros, the direct result of Shul talk was (if you have learned only a little bit about the calamity) literally ravage and massacre in its grossest form.


Additional Note: Let us return for a moment, however, to our departure from Kivros HaTa’ava on this day--why did it not become an auspicious time forever?  Why is this very day marked by such suffering, such torture, such pain?  Perhaps the answer belies the question.  It may simply be that we have not sufficiently left the taavos--the improper desires--that we began with. The story is told of a formerly wealthy man who was so beset by creditors that he could not leave the confines of his home for fear of his well-being.  His Rabbi came to visit and comfort him while the man was eating dinner, and noticed the finest wine on the table.  When asked about the wine, the man replied, “Rabbi, I crave it.  I simply crave it.  I cannot be without it.”  In truth, it is not the fine wine of this once-wealthy individual that should concern us, but our own similar behavior.  The Ra’avad writes that breaking a desire is a key factor and display of Teshuva.  From that extra helping of unhealthy food, that tempting smorgasbord, that unnecessary electronic (adult) gadget (no, there is no Mitzvah to discover every last trick your cell phone can do), that extra measure of honor... anything in your house that seems to be in overabundance are really serious mistakes, as they could (and probably will) mean the stunting of both one’s physical and one’s spiritual growth.  As Akavya ben Mehallel taught, “I would rather be a fool in the eyes of all my entire life, rather than a rasha in the eyes of Hashem for one moment.”  Even the adage: “A second on your lips, forever on your hips” should ring true to our ears at the moment of temptation.  It would seem that if we can consciously combat one temptation daily--we will be on the road of taking ourselves out of the graveyard of temptation and its historic tragic aftermath--to the pinnacles of success.  How our world would have been different if Adam and Chava did not fall prey to the one temptation of the Eitz Hada’as.



Special Note Four:  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, provides one important yesod in three different pesukim in Mishlei:


1. Lev Sameiach Yeitiv Panim U’Veatzvas Lev Ruach Nechei’ah ( 15:13 )--a merry heart makes a cheerful face, but by sadness of heart comes a breaking spirit.


2. Lev Sameiach Yeitiv Geiha V’Ruach Nechei’ah Teyabeish Garem ( 17:22 )--a merry heart enhances one’s body and a broken spirit dries the bones.


3. Ru’ach Ish Yechalkel Machaleihu V’Ruach Nechei’ah Me Yisa’enah ( 18:14 )--a man’s spirit will sustain his illness, but a broken spirit--who will bear it?


From these Pesukim, we learn that a person’s broken attitude can hurt him even physically--but that a spirit of Simcha can help him overcome even those very same physical difficulties or maladies.  Hashem has blessed us with a mind to help us overcome the challenges that each and every one of us faces, each in our own way, each being personalized tests of life to guide us and lead us to maximize our potential in this world. If we start with the guideline of a Lev Sameiach in every aspect of our daily lives--we will be well along the way to achieve that potential!




19 Sivan

Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, Beha’alosecha, we were taught that Aharon HaKohen performed the Hadlakas Haneiros of the Menorah ‘KaAsher Tzivah Hashem Es Moshe’ (Bamidbar 8:3) --as Hashem had commanded Moshe Rabbeinu that it should be done. Rashi, quoting the Sifri, writes that this constitutes a praise of Aharon, who did not change or deviate from Moshe’s instructions.  Upon reading this Rashi, everyone asks--I myself  wouldn’t change what Moshe Rabbeinu told me that  which Hashem had commanded---why would--how could--the great Aharon do otherwise—why would he even consider such a thing?


We may suggest an answer based upon the apocryphal story of the woman who petitioned the court for a divorce after 58 years of marriage. “Mrs. Stein” said the judge—”you have been married for 58 years and you want to get divorced?!”  “Your Honor”, she responded, “Enough is enough!”


Aharon HaKohen, although older than Moshe Rabbeinu, and the leader of Bnei Yisrael prior to Moshe coming back from Midyan (See Rashi to Shemos 4:13 ), initially greeted Moshe upon his return to Mitzrayim with joy of heart (ibid, 14).  However, after two years with his younger brother, Moshe Rabbeinu, as the ultimate leader and in charge of Kriyas Yam Suf and Kabbalas HaTorah, and after finally getting the opportunity to be a leader on his own as the Kohen Gadol, Aharon might have wanted to demonstrate that he was a somebody, too—by lighting the Menorah in some special or distinctive way (which would not even have contradicted any of the specific instructions of Moshe).  Nonetheless, Aharon followed the instructions of Moshe to the letter—without adding, subtracting, modifying or deviating from his word.


There is a great lesson here for us. We may have accustomed ourselves to act and speak properly and/or with patience with a particular person, understanding either that the person has his own idiosyncrasies, or that the person is a close relative, and that peaceful family relations, calmness and breaking one’s middos is of paramount importance. Every once in a while, however, a person may have a feeling to let loose—after all, I have controlled myself dozens, scores, even hundreds of times—now it’s my turn! An infrequent indulgence, a brief ‘lesson’ to him, a rare demonstration of what you are otherwise capable of…. Aharon HaKohen, who was the role model for us in Ohaiv Shalom VeRodeph Shalom—in perfection of human relations—teaches us not to let it happen --even once.


 It is interesting to note that the Torah gives us no temporary dispensation for any aveira. One could make the argument that if he was given one day a year to do any and all aveiros that he wanted to for the year to get it out of his system—that he would have 364 days of real control and greater success in Kiyum HaMitzvos.  Even if all aveiros weren’t permitted—maybe a day without Kashrus or without Lashon Hara restrictions would take care of the animal within him, and allow the vast majority of the year to be celebrated in Ruchniyus. Yet, in fact, the Torah makes no such allowance. Quite to the contrary, the Torah provides for one day a year of **greater Ruchniyus**--Yom Kippur--to raise our level for the coming year. What a perspective! We are not to look down for the one-time capitulation—but to look up for those special one-time opportunities for growth.


Rabbi Shlomo Yisroel Gelber, z’tl, (whose Yahrzeit is today) taught that “A Mensch Darf Altz Hubben Seichel Far Zich”—a person has a full-time obligation use his mental abilities to benefit himself. If he turns away--even temporarily—he is disregarding his capabilities as a human being, and the true potential for greatness that he really does have.


The Torah goes out of its way to praise Aharon HaKohen—not deviating even for a good purpose, a real reason, just that one time….. By doing so, the Torah teaches how we can, and should, follow in his footsteps consistently and at all times in those circumstances, situations, relationships and challenges that give us the good opportunity to do so!



Special Note Two:  During this pivotal week between the misdeed of Miriam and the cheit of the Meraglim, we continue with our thoughts on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon.  The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon II, end of Chapter 6) writes that when a person watches his words, he profits continuously--for each time that he wants to speak, he considers for a moment whether what he is about to say is or includes Lashon Hora, Ona’as Devarim, Leitzanus and the like, and he quashes his desire to so speak.  When this happens, in Shomayim it is considered as if he fulfilled a Mitzvah with his actions, as Chazal (Makkos 23B) specifically teach:  Yashav Adam V’Lo Avar Aveirah Ke’sheh Bah L’Yado, Nosnin Lo Sachar Ke’Oseh Mitzvah--when one has the opportunity to do an aveirah and does not do so, Hashem credits him with having fulfilled a Mitzvah by his inaction!  The Chofetz Chaim concludes:  over the year, by inaction, one will amass several thousand more Mitzvos to his credit!



Special Note Three:  In the past, we have provided suggestions for making the car driving or car riding experience a more worthwhile and spiritually rewarding one. We have mentioned, for example, the practice of someone from Atlanta , Georgia reviewing the Six Constant Mitzvos upon entering the car, utilizing the car mirrors. Others may recite Tehillim Chapter 130 as a Tefillah for a safe local trip. Parents doing carpool may have in mind that they are assisting others study Torah, or especially fulfilling the Mitzvah of assisting children in the study of Torah. Yet others may use the time to practice patience by not honking or complaining in situations when others may do otherwise. A person can look for opportunities for Hachnosas Orchim for people who need a lift after shopping. The car guest can share unique, complimentary words and/or a Dvar Torah. Red lights can be special opportunities reserved for thinking about improvement in a particular area. After 120 years, each and every one of us would all like to say that we used modern transportation well and to our advantage.  We are compiling a more complete list of ‘Automobile Opportunities for the Torah Jew’—and look forward to your recommendations and suggestions!



Special Note Four: The following are excerpted from the treasured work To Live Among Friends--Laws and Ethics of Everyday Interactions by Rabbi Dovid Castle , Shlita (Feldheim):


1.  The Chazon Ish was asked to describe the highest spiritual level a person can attain in this world.  He replied, “Going through life without ever hurting another Jew.” 


2.  In 1914 there was an important meeting in the home of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Z’tl, who was the Rav of the area.  The Rebbetzin served tea and cookies to all the very distinguished guests.  Among the distinguished guests was Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, Z’tl.  When he lifted his cup of tea, his son quickly reminded him that he was in the middle of a Yahrtzeit fast, but the saintly rabbi seemed to ignore the reminder.  After leaving, Rav Yosef Chaim explained, “Since Rav Kook and his Rebbetzin were receiving guests, which is considered even greater than receiving the Shechinah, how could I refuse and not taste anything?  It is likely that this would have slighted their honor.  Therefore, I permitted myself to taste the tea on the fast because I tasted less than the amount that would be considered breaking one’s fast.”


A genuine sensitivity to people’s feelings sometimes calls for passing up other acts of service to Hashem, which may be classified as spiritual luxuries by comparison.  One must be careful though, because only a true talmid chacham is capable of properly weighing and measuring such things.  This is included in what Chazal have said: “An ignorant person (in Torah) cannot be extremely pious.  Hakhel Note:  Accordingly, it is important for us to consult with Talmidei Chachomim not only with Shailos in Halacha, but also with proper modes of conduct and behavior--especially in particular situations that one finds come up from time to time.


3.  Hashem gives priority to Mitzvos between man and his fellow, and we should too.


Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Z’tl, the Alter of Slobodka, kept a personal diary which included a list of resolutions.  The first resolution on his list was:  To be as careful as possible about the honor of my friends, (to treat them) with patience, with soft speech, and never once with agitation, and to be careful to the utmost degree never to embarrass anybody.


Rabbi Castle concludes that the Mitzvah of Lulav and Esrog on Sukkos is truly one of the dearest mitzvos to most observant Jews.  Even many nonobservant Jews enjoy and respect this Mitzvah.  Since the Esrog represents the heart, we look for an Esrog that is free of even the slightest blemish.  We are prepared to invest much time and effort in finding the most beautiful Esrog without the slightest blemish.  The Esrog only “represents” our heart.  Perfecting our real hearts is more important and dear, and is a lifelong project that requires much investment and effort!




18 Sivan

REMINDER!  The Beis Din Maysharim of Lakewood, at www.shtaros.com is providing to lawyers, professionals, and educated laymen a collection of documents designed to address many Halachic issues that arise in standard contracts.  The documents have actually been drafted by Dayanim of the Bais Din.  Please note that these are not intended to replace any legal documents, and an attorney should be consulted before use.  Some of the documents are presented as ‘shareware’.  They may be downloaded at will, with the expectation that users will pay for their use, as described in the footers of each document.  We thank the Bais Din Maysharim for this invaluable resource.



FROM A READER:  “I read in the name of HaRav Mendel Kaplan, Z’tl, that real Chesed is what you think there is no reason to do--and the only reason you are doing it is because someone else wants it done!”



THE BRACHA ON BLUEBERRIES:  We had recently provided the cleaning instructions for blueberries, as provided to us by Vaad HaKashrus of the Five Towns (we noted that other Kashrus organizations may differ). A Rav asked us to point out that for one who eats properly cleaned blueberries, the bracha rishona for packaged blueberries is Ha’eitz, while the bracha rishona for wild blueberries which grow on low bushes is Ha’adama. If sour cream is eaten to enhance the blueberries, no additional bracha is required for the cream (Halachos of Brachos Handbook by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, p. 15). Note:  Rabbi Bodner also notes (at p. 245-246 of the Sefer), that according to some Rishonim, natural items which are whole, (e.g., a whole blueberry or a whole chick pea) require a bracha achrona even if they are smaller than a kezayis. Other Rishonim disagree and require a kezayis to be eaten for there to be a bracha achrona. Accordingly, the Shulchan Aruch advises that one should not eat such items whole, unless he plans on eating a kezayis….




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 138 and 139:


138. Shelo Yikach Kohen Isha Zonah--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a Kohen from marrying a woman who is classified as a Halachic zonah (which is not the colloquial use of the term)--which includes a woman who is not a Bas Yisrael, or a Bas Yisrael who has had a forbidden relationship with a man whom she is otherwise forbidden to marry including a chalal. There are, however, certain forbidden relationships which a woman may have engaged in which do not render her prohibited to marry a Kohen, as enumerated in the Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times.


139. Shelo Yikach Kohen Chalalah-- this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a Kohen from marrying a woman who is classified as a Halachic chalalah (one who is the progeny of any of the women forbidden to a Kohen, or a women forbidden to a Kohen who has had a forbidden relationship with a Kohen or who married one). This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times.



Special Note Two:  We are now in the week which bridges the end of Parshas Beha’aloscha--the sin of Lashon Hora against Moshe Rabbeinu, with Parshas Shelach--which contains the words of the ten Meraglim--one of the most diabolical acts of Lashon Hora that the world has ever known or ever will know.  This week accordingly, must be a week in which we take special strides to demonstrate that we recognize the importance of our words, our speech, our writings, and our gestures--so that we bond and unite rather than disassociate ourselves from one another.  The Chofetz Chaim brings from the Zohar that our Tefillos in Shul cannot rise up to Shomayim if they are uttered by mouths which speak Lashon Hora.  We ask our readers to recall the story of the Rav who wanted to enter a Shul where there was barely a Minyan.  However, he advised the Mispallelim that he was unable to enter because the Shul was too crowded.  One of the Mispallelim pointed out that there were many empty seats and that he could certainly enter.  The Rav responded that the Shul was filled with Tefillos which were trapped within its four walls and ceiling--and he therefore had no room to daven!  Our Yetzer Hara constantly bombards us with thoughts like ‘This time it’s OK’ or ‘Say it, just say it!’ or ‘You have the right to get angry at this, and once you do, say whatever you want’….  This week, it is certainly a time for us, each person in accordance with his own battlefront, to begin to make a special effort to triumph over the Yetzer Hara of Improper Speech--battle after battle after battle.  As the G’ra teaches, each victory is of such great proportions that even the Malochim in Shomayim cannot fathom the reward!


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  If one is involved in redting shidduchim, or one is otherwise friendly with a person who may not have the same level of Lashon Hara awareness, may we suggest that before commencing a conversation on the phone relating to Shidduchim or with a less careful person (even if that person means well), one open up a specially designated notebook and commit to write down anything one proposes to say which may be borderline Lashon Hara (or worse)--without being sure that it is permissible. One may also write that which he has heard and which is questionable--immediately committing to be Dan Lechaf Zechus. An empty and clean notebook on a daily basis is a sign of true victory! Of course, what one may and should write in his ledger is:  Ask the following Shailah--and whether he must, can (depending upon certain facts), or should not relate it!



 Special Note Three:  Today is the Yahrtzeit of the Mirrer Masghiach, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, one of our Mussar giants.  The Luach Bnei Yaakov reports that HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl ate with HaRav Yeruchem and his wife every Shabbos for five years.  Rav Chaim especially noted how constantly and consistently over the five years, Rav Yeruchem was always looking and discovering new Ma’alos in his wife!  This is one great lesson that each and every person can take to heart with any one of his close relatives or friends!




15 Sivan

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In this week’s Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu is described as “Anav Me’od MeKol HaAdam” (Bamidbar 12:3)--Moshe was very humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth.  Mesechta Avos (4:4), however, teaches that:  Me’od, Me’od Hevei Shefal Ruach--one should be very, very humble.  Why was Moshe only very humble, while Chazal implore everyone to be very, very humble? 



ARE YOU MISSING OUT?!  The Emuna Daily three minute daily phone or email message is a powerful and consistent source of strengthening oneself in the Nisyonos that one faces in daily life. For those who do not yet benefit from this essential, short daily inspiration, we urge you to contact:  emunadaily@gmail.com.  To dial into the phone message dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886# and then # again.



FROM A READER:  In the recent Artscroll sefer that came out on HaRav Pinchos Scheinberg, Z’tl, I was particularly struck by an incident that is recorded there. I am paraphrasing: Once, a talmid in his Yeshiva did not come to Shiur. HaRav Scheinberg saw him the next day and asked him why. The bachur responded:  ‘I had something to do.’  HaRav Scheinberg then told him:  ‘Do you mean that you only come to the Bais Midrash when you have nothing to do?!’ “  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Scheinberg was especially emphasizing that even when we have something to do--we must still make it a point to keep our daily Torah study times and sessions!



THE MUD IS GONE!  The Baalei Mussar raise the following question: Teshuvah is so potent. Isn’t a person who has sinned and repented in a better position than a person who has not sinned at all--after all hasn’t he worked on himself to a greater extent and grown from the experience. They answer with a simple Mashal: If one is walking home in the rain, is it better to walk home on the sidewalk--avoiding puddles and collections of mud--or is it better to step in the puddles and roll in the mud--in order to enjoy the feeling of coming home and cleaning oneself up!



PISKEI HALACHOS:  Rabbi Chaim Aharon Tomback, Shlita, in the Sefer Nichusa Shel Torah, writes in the name of Rebbi Akiva Eiger, Z’tl, that:  Ahf Divrei HaMussar Shel Rabbeinu Yona Shehaya Posek HaDor Heima Bichlal Piskei Halachos--even the words of Mussar that are found in the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva are considered Piskei Halacha!”  Hakhel Note:  We can now well understand why the Chofetz Chaim utilizes the words of the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah as a key source in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim. We should also appreciate then, that whenever we study the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah--we are not only study a Mussar Sefer, but a Sefer of Halacha!




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


A. We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 100-125 women.   This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 15 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


Hakhel Note:  The Shiur is from 10:00AM until 11:00AM at Agudah of 18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue . Rabbi Webster is currently giving the Shiur on Hilchos Tochein….


16. Is one permitted to use an apple corer?


 No,  the poskim consider this to be a specialized utensil, and using it would violate the prohibition of Borer.


17. Is one permitted to use a slotted spoon, or is it considered a specialized utensil?


There is a dispute among the Poskim if one is permitted to use a slotted spoon. Some Poskim are of the opinion that one is permitted to use a slotted spoon in order to quickly remove food from a pot. However, one may not hold the slotted spoon in order to drain the liquid e.g. one may not hold the spoon up against the side of the container or pot to drain the liquid). The same would be true with regard to using a fork to remove coleslaw from a container--one may not position the fork in a manner which would drain the juice. Other Poskim are of the opinion that one may absolutely not use a slotted spoon to remove food that contains liquid. However, one would be  permitted to use it to remove a totally dry item.


18. Is one permitted to use a vegetable peeler on Shabbos?


 There is a dispute among the Poskim if one is permitted to use a vegetable peeler. Some Poskim are of the opinion that one is permitted to use a vegetable peeler. They consider it to be nothing more than a fancy knife. Other Poskim are of the opinion that one may not use a vegetable peeler. If so, why is one permitted to use a knife? The Poskim consider the vegetable peeler to be a specialized utensil for borer, while a knife is less precise, because it generally peels away parts of the vegetable/fruit when being used. Therefore, they do not consider it as a specialized utensil for borer.


19. If one has a tea bag in liquid, may one remove the tea bag?


See Question 17. According to some Poskim, one can quickly remove the tea bag from the cup without holding it in the air to drip. Other Poskim rule that even this method is not permitted (even for one second). Their reasoning is that extracting essence from the tea bag by taking the tea bag out of the cup allows the liquid to drain from the bag and is considered as using the tea bag as a specialized utensil (strainer).


20. What does M’Yad mean?


When one wishes to select, sort, etc. edible or non-edible items it must be done M’Yad--”immediately” prior to using the item. The question is--how does one define “immediately”? After all, when one is preparing a meal there may be many bore related acts which one needs to perform. If so, what should one do? The Poskim state that all these activities are included in meal preparation and are considered as one large act of borer, so that cutting up salad, peeling eggs, arranging a cake platter for kiddush, arranging a meat platter, setting the table are all to be viewed together. Performing these acts at any time during the meal preparation is permissible as long as the ‘meal preparation’ was done in the time frame of “immediately”.  Accordingly,  the time frame of immediately is not fixed--but will vary--as it will depend on how much work is needed in the course of meal preparation. If one is preparing a small meal, then “immediately” may mean only ten minutes before the serving the meal. But if one is having a large meal which requires forty-five minutes, then “immediately” means forty-five minutes. If one is making a kiddush requiring two hours of preparation, then that entire period of time is considered “immediately”. During the meal preparation, one is not required to delay any act of borer to the last possible moment. The act of borer may be done at any time during the general meal preparation period. However, in no event is one permitted to prepare for a meal early with the intent to rest or perform other non-meal activity after the preparation is completed.



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha (Bamidbar 9:23 ), we learn that “Al Pi Hashem Yachanu, V’Al Pi Hashem Yi’sa’u--by the word of Hashem they encamped, and by the word of Hashem they traveled.” The renowned Mashal of HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Shlita, is as follows:  A baby is in its mother’s lap on the bus ride from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.  At any one point in the trip, where would you say the child is?  Near Motza, Telz Stone, K’far Chabad?  No, one would say that the child is in its mother’s lap.  We are always in Hashem’s embrace--whether we are in a restaurant, ice cream store, dress store, home...  If we can remember and appreciate this--would we go after that second dress, second helping--and yes even second scoop?!



Special Note Three:  At the end of this week’s Parsha, we learn of the incident of Miriam and Aharon speaking about Moshe Rabbeinu.  It is obviously the time to inspire ourselves in the area of Shemiras HaLashon--for our reading this Parsha now is obviously with great Hashgacha.  Accordingly, we provide a few simple, but important points:


A. Hashem reprimands Aharon and Miriam for speaking against Moshe Rabbeinu with the words (Bamidbar 12:7):  Lo Chein Avdi Moshe BeChol Beisi Ne’eman Hu--How could you have spoken against Moshe Rabbeinu--after all, in My entire house he is the trusted one?”  The question on this Pasuk is blatant.  Why did Hashem have to give Aharon and Miriam a reason for not speaking Lashon Hara--after all, we cannot speak Lashon Hara--even if the person we are speaking about falls very far short of Moshe Rabbeinu?!  Would it not have been sufficient (and at first blush more appropriate) for Hashem to say:  “Why did you speak against Moshe Rabbeinu--when you know you are not permitted to do so against anyone?”  Indeed, the prohibition of Lashon Hara applies to speaking about a child in grade school as well!  We may suggest that the Torah is teaching us to remind ourselves before we speak how important each and every one of our friends is to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  You may be upset, angry, insulted, you may feel you have to teach him a lesson, or you may feel that because you are tired you are entitled to have a little less control--but ultimately, remember that the person you are about to speak about is someone loved by Hashem.  As the Pasuk (ibid. 12:9) continues:  U’Madua Lo Yireisem L’Daber B’Avdi V’Moshe--How could you not have feared to speak about My servant, Moshe?”  We are all Hashem’s beloved creations--Hashem is a loving Father of us all--so how could we think or express anything against His children?!  Let us think of Hashem’s powerful words--Hashem’s explanation as to why Lashon Hara should absolutely and positively be far removed from our thoughts--let alone our tongues, lips and mouths! 


B.  Lashon Hara can easily arise because one feels that the other party has hurt him physically, emotionally, monetarily, or in some other manner.  One must always remember that one’s offender is not different than Shimi Ben Geira--whom Dovid HaMelech recognized was simply Hashem’s agent, and not the true perpetrator against him.  We should not think and react like dogs--who believe that it is the stick hitting them--while, of course, in truth it is the person holding the stick who is doing so.  Chazal teach that an important Middah is ‘Nosei BeOhl Im Chaveiro--to carry a yoke with one’s friend.’  What yoke are we referring to?  We suggest that the Ohl may be ‘Ohl Malchus Shomayim’--realizing and recognizing that whatever burdens or demands one’s friends is placing upon him--is really Min HaShomayim.  One should thus demonstrate his Ohl Malchus Shomayim--by working with and for, and being especially content and understanding with one’s friend--no matter what the situation, no matter what the circumstance!


C.  An immediate way to rectify an act of Kabbolas Lashon Hara is to reverse the kabbalah by being Dan LeChaf Zechus.  This means that one must change his understanding of the facts, of the words, of the event--so that what had previously been Lashon Hora is redirected to an unpainful and perhaps even positive direction.  If the damage had not been done--you can still undue it!


D.  The Chofetz Chaim gives a fitting mashal as to why a mouth that has spoken Lashon Hara cannot be used for effective Tefillah or Torah study:  A person goes into a first-class restaurant, orders the most expensive meat and accompanying delicacies, is served by a top waiter in meticulous attire--takes one bite and begins to chew and savor it until the color of his face changes and he quickly gags a bit and spits out the food. What could the explanation be--after all, the chef must be a top one, the meat must be the finest cut, and the garnishments must be fitting as well--what could have gone wrong? The most likely explanation is that the pot used to prepare the food was not cleaned from the previous food prepared in it--the taste of any further food prepared in it--no matter how special or valuable--would be spoiled by the dirty pot that it was made in! Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim’s lesson also obviously works conversely--imagine a mouth in which words are spoken with care. The words of Tefillah and Torah that emanate from them come from a utensil that is pristine and perfect for the job!


E.  In the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon (II:3), the Chofetz Chaim writes that after 120 years, the Parshios of the Torah will be reviewed together with a person.  Because many Parshios speak about the depravity or effects of Lashon Hora and the sins that relate to it, the person will truly be called to task for having c’v seemingly ignored such significant portions of the Torah.  Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim writes that every time these Parshios are studied in Shomayim and others will bask in the light of their Torah, the one who has ignored the lessons from the Parsha will sit shamefaced instead.  The Chofetz Chaim concludes with the words:  Ashrei LeAdam SheMisbonen BeChol Zeh BeOdo BaZeh HaOlam, VeAz Ashrei V’Tov Lo Bazeh U’vaBah--fortunate is the person who reflects and acts upon this when he is of sound mind while still in this world--and then it will be good for him in both this world and the next--and that world will last more than thousands and thousands of years!


Hakhel Note:  We urge you to make good use of the Chofetz Chaim’s Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras HaLashon Shaila Hotline, in which expert Poskim answer your real-life Shailos relating to Shidduchim, business, neighbor relations, etc.  The phone number is 718-951-3696 between the hours of 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM Eastern Time.  Avoid any doubt--say it right!




14 Sivan

Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 136 and 137:


136. Shelo Yavoh Petzuah Daka U’Chrus Shafcha BaKahal--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits men with specified physical blemishes from marrying a Bas Yisrael. The punishment is makkos. They may, however, marry a giores, and even a Kohein who is a petzuah daka may marry a giores. The Chofetz Chaim goes on to provide the actual definitions of petzuah daka and chrus shafcha (both of which are blemishes that occur after birth). This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.


137. Shelo Yavoh Mamzer BaKahal--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a mamzer from marrying into K’lal Yisrael. A mamzer is progeny born from a relationship in which the participants are chayav kareis, except in the case of a niddah relationship, in which the child is a pagum and not a mamzer. A mamzer can marry a ger, but their children are mamzerim. There are also mamzerim Midivrei Sofrim in certain circumstances. This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.



Special Note Two:  As the summer approaches, we begin to find situations in which people (including children) may not be properly dressed. Accordingly, the question arises as to the age from which a child must be properly clothed in order to make a bracha while facing the child. The following is excerpted from Children in Halacha by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita (p. 24):


A. It is forbidden for a male to recite a bracha facing a female three years of age or older who is ‘improperly dressed’ [as will be defined below]. This applies even to members of one’s family (e.g., wife, sister, etc.). The prohibition of reciting a bracha in the presence of one’s improperly dressed daughter [only], however, begins at the age of eleven. Some Poskim rule that the prohibition of reciting a bracha while facing an improperly dressed female begins at an age older than three years. [Hakhel Note: Accordingly, every person should consult with his Rav or Posek in this regard].


B. It is forbidden for a female to recite a bracha in front of a male nine years of age or older whose private parts are exposed. It is also forbidden to recite a bracha in front of another female three years of age or older whose private parts are exposed. However, a female is permitted to recite a bracha in front of another female who is improperly dressed.


C. The Halachos of proper dress differ between boys and girls. If a boy’s private parts are covered, he is considered adequately dressed [for these purposes]. However, for a female to be adequately dressed, the following parts of her body must be covered: (a) the area(s) below the neck; and (b) the elbows and above; and (c) the knees and above the knee.


Hakhel Note:  In the Halachos of Brachos, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, adds: “According to many Poskim, exposure of the legs below the knee also constitutes nakedness….the prohibition of making a bracha while facing an improperly clad woman also applies to the exposed hair of a married Jewish woman.”


Additional Note: Based upon these Halachos, every person should exercise the proper caution and concern prior to reciting Hashem’s Hallowed Name--making sure it is in an appropriate setting!



Special Note Three:  With Chasuna season upon us, it becomes necessary to once again review the Halachos of Sheva Brachos, so that we can be better guided when attending a Sheva Brachos Seudah, or being asked to be the “Panim Chadoshos”. We present below several such Halachos, as excerpted from the Sefer Oholei Yeshurun by Rabbi Aharon Felder, Shlita.  As always, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final P’sak or in the case of any doubt:


1.  If a Chasuna occurs near sh’kia and the meal cannot begin on the same day (before sunset), then the seven days begin on the following day (i.e. the day of the actual Chasuna meal).


2.  If the final meal on the seventh day concludes after sunset, Sheva Brachos may still be recited.


3.  It is preferable that Sheva Brachos be recited each day.  Therefore, a Chassan and Kallah should not travel to places where Sheva Brachos cannot be recited.


4.  Sheva Brachos may be recited at a meal in any place--as long as the meal was prepared specifically for the Chassan and Kallah.  Therefore, Sheva Brachos could not be recited if the Chassan and Kallah enter a restaurant to have a private meal.  Rather, if Sheva Brachos are to be recited in a hotel, restaurant or other place where people are otherwise served meals, then the people who will participate should be notified ahead of time that the meal is in honor of the Chassan and Kallah.


5.  Sheva Brachos would not be recited if a Chassan and Kallah are attending a Bris, unless special food was added in their honor.


6.  Both Chassan and Kallah must be present both at the meal (even if they arrived late), and at the Sheva Brachos.


7.  Sheva Brachos is recited only once, even if there are several Chassanim and Kallos at the same meal.


8.  A minimum of seven males above Bar Mitzvah must recite Birkas Hamazon in order to recite Sheva Brachos.  The remaining three people needed for the minyan may eat a kezayis of any food or drink a revi’is of any liquid (except for water).  If one had started his meal elsewhere (such as Friday night), and was asked to Bentsh with the Chassan and Kallah for Sheva Brachos, he must eat a kezayis of bread at his own meal, and he must then eat a small portion of food with the Chassan and Kallah--unless he is one of the seven people required to eat bread--in which case he must eat at least a kezayis of bread at the Sheva Brachos location.  However, if he is one of the other three people needed, then he may eat a kezayis of any food or drink a revi’is of liquid (except water), as above.


9.  The Panim Chadashos cannot have been present at a previous meal tendered in honor of the Chassan and Kallah, but may have attended the wedding ceremony itself.


10.  If the two Kosos are not the same size, the larger Kos should be used for Bentsching, which is more chashuv.  Both cups should be filled before washing Mayim Achronim.


11.  If one of the Brachos was temporarily skipped by mistake, it should be recited despite the fact that it will not be in the proper order.


12.  The person Bentsching should have kavana to be motzi others with his Borei Pri Hagofen, and those intending to drink (such as the Chassan and Kallah) should also have in mind that they are being yotzei with his bracha.  He should drink at least an ounce of wine--and preferably a revi’is--so that he can make a bracha achrona on the Kos Shel Bracha.


Hakhel Note:  Whether or not you were honored with one of the Sheva Brachos---don’t leave without giving your own personal bracha to the Chassan and Kallah!




13 Sivan  

FROM A READER:  I know that you sometimes write about correct pronunciations. This is something that I hear many people say incorrectly.  When kissing tzitzis during Shema, they pause after saying tzitzis, then say hakanaf pesil techeiles together as one phrase, whereas tzitzis hakanaf should be said together, the tzitzis should then be kissed, and the appropriate next phrase is pesil techeiles.”





Steps For Cleaning Strawberries: 


1.                1)  Carefully cut off the green leaf on top of the strawberry without making a hole in the top of the berry.


2.                  2)  Fill a receptacle with water and a soapy solution. The receptacle should be large enough to accommodate the amount of strawberries you are using and still enable you to vigorously agitate the berries, as described below. The amount of soapy solution should be enough to make the water feel slippery and be “sudsy”.


3.                  3)  When a strawberry has a crevice or indentation (like a twin berry), the strawberry should be cut in half prior to the washing, and then rinsed carefully under a strong stream of water.


4.                  4)  Place strawberries in this soapy solution and let them soak for three minutes.


5.                  5)  After soaking, vigorously agitate strawberries in water. This should be done by taking one to two strawberries (depending on the size of the berry) in the hollow of your fist and, while being submerged under water, vigorously shake the berries in your fist in a back and forth or side to side motion.


6.                  6)  Continue doing this for all of the berries.


7.                  7)  After the shaking under water has been done, place each berry under a strong stream of water completely rotating the berry from top to bottom and side to side. Using your fingers, guide the stream of water to directly reach each part of the berry.


8.                  After this procedure has been done the berries can be eaten without further inspection.


Hakhel Note:  Every person should consult with his own Rav or Posek regarding the strawberry checking standards he should follow.


Additional Note:  A reader advised us that his mother was a prisoner of war in a concentration camp during World War Two.  She had received counterfeit papers and was not treated like other Jews in the camp.  Nevertheless, food was scarce and negligible.  She is now in America , and refuses to eat any fruits or vegetables which have the possibility of insect infestation--”There is so much to eat here--why do I have to look for difficulties?!”, she explains.



APPROVED FISH LIST:  The following is a list of types of fish currently approved by Kehilah Kashrus (Brooklyn, New York), which we understand was originated by the Kashrus Council of Lakewood:


·        Carp

·        Flounder-Only: Channel, Fluke, Georgia Banks

·        Gefilte Fish

·        Herring fillet (according to many Poskim)

·        Lox (unless marked wild)

·        Minced fish sticks, minced fish patties, minced fish cakes

·        Mullet

·        Pike

·        Pollok-Only Atlantic

·        Red Snapper-except Pacific

·        Sable-Only when marked: Farm Raised Black Cod

·        Salmon-Farm Raised

·        Sardines-Morocco and Philippines

·        Sardines (skinless and boneless)-all countries

·        Sea Bass - Blue Nose ( New Zealand ), Grouper ( Mexico ), Striped Bass

·        Tilapia

·        Trout

·        Tuna

·        Whitefish: Great Lakes

·        Whiting


Due to infestation of Anasakis, Kehilah Kashrus no longer allows the use of any color masago/caviar.




Special Note One:  Chazal (Brachos 6B) teach that one should run to Shul (at least when he is in close range), citing the pasuk (Hoshea 6:3):  “VeNaidah Nirdefa Loda’as Es Hashem--let us know, let us be chased to know Hashem...:”  There is a great lesson here.  The Navi does not merely tell us to run (‘narutza’) to know Hashem--but to put that extra effort, that extra gas into the Mitzvah--as if you were not only running-- but ‘nirdefa’-- as if being chased.  It is that little bit of extra effort that makes one among the first to be in Shul, or among the first to be at the Shiur, or among the first to help.  It is more, though, than a ‘numbers’ game of being among the first or earliest--it is the quality of the Mitzvah that is being performed--a Mitzvah with an especial zeal, a real striving, a Mitzvah of added desire, respect and longing.  Even if one has difficulty physically running at the ‘being chased’ level, or even running at all, one can demonstrate his alacrity and eagerness with his timeliness, zest and enthusiasm.  It is said in the name of the Chofetz Chaim that as part of one’s lot in life he may have to be subjected to ‘redifos’--to being chased.  Instead, the Chofetz Chaim suggests, of being chased, c’v, by tzaros, or by monetary matters, or by the Yetzer Hora, one may attempt to replace the redifos with chasings by and of Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim.  At the end of your day, an important question that you can ask yourself is--what chased me today?  If you need to fix it the next day --may we suggest beginning with the way you get out of bed and/or the readiness in which you prepare for and begin your morning Tefillos.  If a commoner quickens his pace when he nears the restaurant or shopping mall--what should we do when we draw near to Shul or the place where we will be helping someone?!


Additional Note:  Although one moves quickly as he draws near to the Shul or the place where he will daven, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Introduction to Chapter 46) writes that before actually entering the Shul, one should pause and wait a little in order to feel and appreciate the fearsomeness, the awe and the majesty of the place, and of the moment.



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, relates what he believes was the last story he had heard from HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl:  HaRav Berenbaum recalled that when he was a young boy there was a wagon driver who would take passengers and products from city to city and in this way earned his living. He would do Chesed from time to time--taking the destitute who were going in his direction, when there was room to do so. On one such occasion, as he was traveling to another city, he took an indigent person and told him to simply lie down on the shmattas that he was transporting to that city. As he arrived in the inn at the city outskirts, a businessman saw the poor man disembark from on top of the shmattas and asked the wagon driver if the man had paid for his ride. The driver responded “No, I did it as a Chesed. It was really pretty effortless.”  The businessman then asked him whether he could purchase the Mitzvah from him. The driver laughed it off, but the businessman insisted that he was serious, and offered him a pretty sum (perhaps something like 50 rubles) for the Mitzvah. The driver was both surprised and happy with the offer--and accepted it! When he arrived home the next day, he told his wife how he had made a tidy sum-’easy money’--by selling the Mitzvah he had performed in bringing a poor man to the other city. His wife was outraged--”How can you sell a Mitzvah? Are you crazy?! I don’t even know how you can remedy this--I demand that you go to the Rav right now and ask him what to do.” The husband agreed, for, after all, he knew that the Rav was a ‘sensible person’, and his wife would be assuaged. He assuredly related the entire story to the Rav. At the conclusion of the story, the Rav stood up and told him:  “Your act was a heinous one! You were mezalzel in the Mitzvah of Chesed. You must pay ten times the amount you received to Tzedaka as a penalty for your horrible deed!”


Hakhel Note:  We sometimes forget the greatness and inestimable spiritual benefits that we bring onto our guf and neshama by our daily acts of Chesed--acts which may not even cost us much time or money. We should, nevertheless, appreciate them for what they are--Olam Chesed Yibaneh--literally what the world is built on today and every day! Just as one makes it a point to properly daven and study Torah daily, he must likewise make it a point to properly cherish and complete the third leg of our table--Gemilas Chassodim on an unrelenting, constant and consistent daily basis. There is no ‘standardized’ Chesed--everyone has the responsibility and the privilege to personalize his daily meaningful acts to his situation and the circumstances of those with whom he shares his life! Let us not be mezalzel--but be mechabev these great opportunities of life!




12 Sivan

Special Note One:  As we continue to shine from the glow of Shavuos, we should most definitely have increased appreciation and Kavannah in the Birchos HaTorah.  One of our readers has asked us on more than one occasion to remind all that we should make sure to pronounce the words of the second bracha properly: It is BAW.char BA.nu and not Baw. CHAR Baw.NU. It is NAW.san LAW.nu, and not Naw. SAN Law.NU.


Hakhel Note: HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita teaches that he heard from his father-in-law, HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, that at Matan Torah what came down to the world forever was Ernstkeit- a sincere and serious approach to life. The antithesis of this approach would be kalus rosh, a lightheaded, unfearful, so-what, it does not really matter, approach. HaRav Erlanger explains that when the Torah provides a punishment for an aveirah, such as Mos Yumas--he shall surely die, it not only means that you are playing around with your life--it also means ‘be serious’. With a proper attitude towards life, many aveiros could be prevented. Indeed, Sara Imeinu told Avraham Avinu that Yishmael must leave their home because he was misacheik--he played around with his life, leading himself in the wrong direction and to the worst of aveiros. HaRav Erlanger brings from the Sefer HaKuzari that we daven three times a day in Shul because we have to re-ignite, for in between our Tefillos, we go into the streets where we see people not taking life seriously, and it is hard to resist their approach when so many do it, and because it is an easier manner in which to live.  In Shul, we are to experience the Dah Lifnei Me Attah Omed--which brings us back to the meaning of life. With the proper study of Torah as well, we grow to appreciate the greatness of our mission in this world. It is reported the HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, passed by a bachur who was studying in Yeshiva with his legs crossed and his shtender slanted towards his chest. HaRav Levenstein told him something like:  “You may think you are learning, but you certainly cannot become a Torah personality in this way!”  As we look into a Sefer or listen to a Shiur, we should appreciate that what comes along with the Torah is a mission of life--and that acting with Ernstkeit throughout the day is the resonation of that mission!



Special Note Two: At his recent audio-Shiur to the Flatbush community, HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, reminded everyone that on Shavuos each and every one of us was mekabel the Torah again. “What does it mean to be mekabel the Torah?” he asked.  “It is to be makayeim the Shulchan Aruch--to fulfill all Halachos properly.”  He emphasized that Halacha guides us through our day even to the extent of which sleeve or section of trousers we are to put on first. He urged all to take upon themselves the daily study of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. To fulfill HaRav Rabanovitch’s essential directive, in addition to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi Program, which begins on Rosh Hashana of every year, and ends on Erev Rosh Hashana (completing the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in one year), his students have this week begun an email of three Halachos of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch a day (with an English translation). To subscribe, contact szelcer@gmail.com. An audio version of the Halachos is also available.


Hakhel Note:  As an example of how important it is to review Halachos, which we believe we may otherwise sufficiently know, we provide a few Halachos in Hilchos Kibbud Av V’Eim from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (143), which was the subject of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi Program (Rosh Hashana to Rosh Hashana) earlier in the week:


A. When a person honors his father and mother, Hashem says:  “I consider it as if I dwelled with you--and you honored Me!” (ibid., seif 1)


B. A person should stand in honor of his father and mother (ibid, seif 7). Hakhel Note:  It is reported that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, was once asked why it is that in our days children do not stand when their parents enter the room. His response was: “You mean they don’t?!”


C. If one’s mother asked him to do something, and then his father appeared disturbed by his action and asked him who told him to do it--he should not tell his father that it was his mother and instead he should take the blame upon himself. (ibid., 6)


D. One should not listen to a parent if the parent tells him to violate a Halacha MiD’Rabanan. If a father tells a child not to speak to a person and not to forgive him, and the son wants to make peace, then he should not listen to his father.  (ibid., 11)


E.  If one shames his father or mother--even with words and even by allusion or hinting, he puts himself under the curse of “Arur Makleh Aviv V’Imo” (Devarim 27:16). (ibid., 14)


F. It is forbidden to hit a child of any age (even below Bar or Bas Mitzvah), if one realizes that it will antagonize the child to the extent that he will respond verbally or physically. One who hits his child in such a situation violates the Lo Sa’aseh of Lifnei Iver Lo Sitein Michshol. (ibid., 18)


G. One who truly wants to honor his father and mother should be oseik in Torah and Ma’asim Tovim--for this is the greatest honor for a parent when someone remarks about their child “Fortunate is the father and mother who raised a child like this!” (ibid., 21)



Special Note Three:   The Chofetz Chaim was once asked why the Navi teaches us that the B'nai Yisroel had to spend time and money in the maintenance and upkeep of the Bais Hamikdash.  After all, this is Hashem's House--He could keep it in a perfect state of repair without the need for painting, re-facing or anything else.  Clearly, just as the B'nai Yisroel did not need new clothes in the Midbar because they were kept beautifully clean by the Ananei Kavod, so too the Bais Hamikdash could have remained perennially immaculate and pristine. The Chofetz Chaim answered that this was of course most certainly true, but that Hashem wanted to provide B'nai Yisroel with zechusim of being involved in beautifying the Mikdash, Hashem's dwelling place.  Our own personal involvement most certainly demonstrates our own care and love for the One Who Dwells there.  Even in our times, we have this opportunity in our own Shuls and study halls--where items need fixing, repair, a better idea, or something new--but don't seem to be getting done.  To take the initiative in this area indicates that you want to have a part in beautifying Hashem's sanctuary.  Indeed, HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita asks that if the Third Bais Hamikdash is to come down already built directly from Shomayim--what part at all will we have in its rebuilding? He answers with the words of Tefilas Mussaf--'VeSamcheinu Besikuno'--we will be happy to put on the 'finishing touches' to the Mikdash that Hashem will leave for us.  We may suggest that those concerned with the Tikkunim needed in our current Mikdashei Me'at may be in an especially good position to be involved in the Tikkunim then--may it be speedily and in our days.  Everyone--younger and older, man and woman, can identify something in their Mikdash Me'at that needs some additional attention or care--and utilize the G-d Given opportunity--to edify His House!




11 Sivan

AMAZING! There are four (4) Parshios in the Torah in which Shavuos is referred to--Mishpatim, Emor, Pinchas and Re’eh. Each of the four refer to Shavuos by a different name--why?



WHAT TO DO AT A CHUPPAH: When one attends a Chuppah, he finds most people sitting, and some standing along the sides.  What should one do--after all, is not one witnessing a Mitzvah, and should not one stand in the presence of one performing a Mitzvah?  The Be’er Heitev (Even HaEzer 62:1) does indeed rule in the name of the K’nesses HaGedolah that one is chayav--one is obligated to stand during sheva brachos at a Chuppah.  One should in all events consult with his Rav or Posek as to the proper conduct in this regard.



B’KOL! At the end of the first Perek of Mesechta Avos, the classic Mishnayos commentary Tiferes Yisrael provides general Kelalim for Hatzlacha in Torah study. One of the very important points he makes is that Kol--studying aloud causes foreign, side-tracking thoughts to disperse--focusing oneself entirely on the Torah before him.  Moreover, adds the Tiferes Yisrael, learning aloud makes a special Roshem B’Nefesh--which causes one to better remember his learning as well!



U’MAFLI LA’ASOS! By popular request, we provide a thought we had previously published on U’Mafli La’asos: In the Haftarah of last week’s Parsha, Parshas Naso, the Pasuk states that upon hearing the news from the angel that Shimshon would be born, Manoach brought a Korban.  The Pasuk continues U’Mafli La’asos--and a wondrous thing happened, “as fire came out of a rock to consume the offering that Manoach had brought” (Shoftim 13:19 ).  The Metsudos and other Meforshim there explain that the word Mafli is rooted in the word Peleh--an amazing and phenomenal event had just occurred--something shocking, astonishing and miraculous--fire out of a rock!!  Chazal then remarkably “borrow” this two word phrase “UMafli La’asos,” as the conclusion and climax of the Asher Yatzar Bracha, which we recite several times a day in recognition of Hashem giving us the capability to take care of our needs.  By using this phrase, Chazal may want us to understand that it is the same “Mafli La’asos” that Manoach and his wife witnessed as they saw fire coming out of a rock to consume a Karbon--as we witness every time we successfully take care of our bodily needs.  It is a Peleh--wondrous and extraordinary--like fire out of a rock!


We should not, c’v, have to wait for an occasion when it is difficult or temporarily impossible for us to witness the daily Peleh we experience in ourselves in order for us to appreciate the miracles inherent in the Asher Yatzar.  Each and every time we conclude Asher Yatzar, it should not be with a feeling that we are just about ready to move on to something else….  Rather--it should be with a huge acknowledgment--with a climactic recognition and blissful declaration--“UMAFLI LA’ASOS!




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 134 and 135:


134.  Shelo Lehachzir Gerushaso--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from remarrying a woman whom he has divorced, if she married someone else in the interim. If one attempts to do so he violates this prohibition and Beis Din forces them to separate, even if she only received Kiddushin from a second man. This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.


135.  Shelo Tinasei Eishes Hameis LeIsh Zar--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a widow who did not have children from marrying someone other than her deceased husband’s brother, as yibum or chalitzah by the deceased’s brother has a first priority. If she does marry a third person, they both violate this prohibition and he must divorce her with a get. She must then receive chalitzah from the deceased’s brother. This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.



Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha we find Mitzvah 364, the Mitzvah of Vidui--verbally confessing to Hashem that one has sinned.  The Chidushei Harim points out that the Mitzvah of Vidui is found in the Parsha in the course of discussing a stolen item (Vehisvadu Es Chatasam--Bamidbar 5:7) because whatever the sin might be--when one sins he is stealing--stealing Hashem’s aspirations of him, and stealing from his own potential!  The Sefer HaChinuch writes that Vidui is a separate requirement in the Teshuvah process because through orally admitting his sin, one demonstrates that he believes that Hashem knows all of his thoughts and actions and one cannot hide from Hashem, or even pretend that Hashem does not see him. Additionally, when one verbally expresses his sin and his remorse, it will aid him to not return to his previous misdeeds. We are now less than four months…to Yom Kippur! If we know of a sin that we have committed, why wait until then, when we can purify ourselves today. Most certainly, whenever we realize we have sinned (whether it be Bein Adam LaMakom or Bein Adam LeChaveiro)--the order of the day…and the order of the hour should be the immediate Vidui!



Special Note Three:  We are in the Shivas Yemei Tashlumim--commemorating all of the Karbanos that would be brought BiZ'man HaMikdash--for which there was no time on Yom Tov itself--Let us take just one example of how everything will be different when the final Geulah comes.  One of the vestiges of the service in the Bais HaMikdash practiced even today to some extent in Eretz Yisroel and Chutz La'Aretz is Birkas Kohanim, which we caught a glimpse of over Shavuos and in last week's Parsha.  The Mishna in Sotah (37B), however, provides a list of differences between the Birkas Kohanim as we know it today and the Birkas Kohanim in its pristine form in the Bais Hamikdash:


1. Outside of the Mikdash, they are three separate Brachos--whereas in the Bayis it is one uninterrupted bracha.


2. Outside of the Mikdash, the Shem Hashem is pronounced in the same manner as when we make all other brachos, whereas in the Mikdash the Ineffable Shem is used.


3. Outside of the Mikdash, Kohanim lift their hands to shoulder height, whereas in the Mikdash the hands are raised above their heads with the Shechina above their fingers.


Thus, even what we can do now will simply be performed on a more sublime and supernal level when the Bais Hamikdash returns.  We have a lot to look forward to!



Special Note Four:  With the passing of Shavuos, Bikkurim can now be brought in the Bais HaMikdash! Accordingly, it is a particularly propitious time for the daily study of Mishnayos Mesechta Bikkurim.  Mesechta Bikkurim is a short Mesechta, actually the last Mesechta in Seder Zeroim--and one can demonstrate his real will and desire to bring Bikkurim today (u'neshalma pharim sefaseinu as well) by learning the Mesechta.  Moreover, since one has until Sukkos (or, the latest, Chanukah) to bring the Bikkurim--and we certainly hope the Bais HaMikdash will be here by then we will each know much more about what we have to do and how we have to do it--and it is always better to be learned than (unnecessarily) unlearned !  If you learn just two (2) Mishnayos a day of Bikkurim--you can still make a Siyum this month!  Let's do it--Zerizin Makdimin!





8 Sivan

DETERMINATION!  HaRav Tuvia Goldstein, Z’tl, teaches that there was one trait that brought about the Malchus Beis Dovid--which will lead us to Moshiach.  That trait is revealed in the Pasuk that we read in Rus over Shavuos:  Vateireh Ki Misametzes…she was determined to go” (Rus 1:18). When Na’ami realized how determined Rus was to follow her, she let her come along…and Dovid HaMelech was born just a few generations later. On the other hand, Orpah was not as determined, and turned back, with her progeny to be Golias instead. A great lesson we are to take with us from Shavuos, then, is dedication and determination in Torah and Mitzvos….For if it will bring about the Moshiach--it will certainly help each and every one of us in our daily lives! (Heard from Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita)




Special Note One:  We must be sure to have the effects of Shavuos continue with us--even as we may have now caught up on our sleep, or finished the last vestiges of caramel cheesecake.  One practical, easy and important suggestion is to think about the Ma’amad Har Sinai--in which we miraculously ‘heard’ the lightening and ‘saw’ the thunder, and witnessed the opening of the sky and of the earth, the unrelenting Shofar blast, the literal shaking of the hills and mountains, the fearful and wondrous awe of cloud and darkness, the stillness of creation, the fire pillaring from Har Sinai into the heights of heaven--all so that we would forever realize and appreciate the moment of Hashem revealing Himself to man in this world--and the incomparable gift and inestimable privilege we thereby received forever.  Every morning--no matter how tired we are, how many things we have on our head, how much we have to do in the morning alone, and even if we are terribly late--we must remember that those few short moments in which we recite Birkos HaTorah are our moments of realization that we are a precious and irreplaceable part of the most valuable chain that the world has ever known--conveying Hashem’s personal and direct message to us.  We owe it to ourselves to treasure these few moments, in great appreciation and thanks, as we visualize the event, and dedicate ourselves to Torah and Mitzvos in the day ahead in a manner befitting the grandeur and glory--and simply unparalleled importance--of the most precious of heavenly possessions that was gifted to us then--and is gifted to us anew every single day!



Special Note Two:  Isru Chag means that we are still tied to the Chag--that we simply don't want to let go.  In fact, when it comes to Shavuos, we are blessed with Shivas Yemei Tashlumin--seven days after the Chag in which to bring the Karbanos that could not be brought on the Chag.  There are obviously very many great lessons here. To name but a few--(1) Shavuos is only one day and all of the effort to be Oleh Regel for a man and his family was worth it to come for one day if one could accomplish his tasks--but if he couldn't or didn't--Hashem understands and gives him the opportunity to make it up;  (2) When it comes to the primacy of Torah in our lives, we need only one day to learn, appreciate and understand it--but we need the next seven days to solidify and bolster that knowledge--and bring it to ongoing reality; and (3) If one did, in fact, accomplish his tasks in the Bais HaMikdash on the day of Shavuos itself, he really only had to stay in Yerushalayim overnight and then could go home--and any remaining stay for the next several days or week was “voluntary” or “optional.”  A great secret of success in Torah study is learning not because you have to--but because you want to. You want to accomplish; you want to know; you want to bask in Hashem's wisdom; you want to do what Hashem says is the right thing to do.  It is not only Shavuos night--but the week after Shavuos that is important in demonstrating the new and renewed verve and vitality that you have for Torah study.  You have just received your annual recharge at the power station--but must realize that every time you engage in Torah study--you are, in fact and in deed, re-charging your very life!


Additional Note:  The Chidushei HaRim explains that the reason Shavuos is called Z'man “Matan” Toraseinu, and not Z'man “Kabbalas” Toraseinu--the day that the Torah was “gifted” to us, and not the day that we “received” the Torah--is because this indicates that the gift began on that date--and the actual receipt of the gift continues to take place daily--day after day, every time we learn another perek, another daf, another pasuk, another word of Torah--the Streaming Heavenly Flow of Torah continues.



Special Note Three:  To further elaborate on the prior Note, we provide the following fantastic Mashal from HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl:


A young man, eager to have a successful future, is advised to go to the local gardening store, and to purchase all kinds of fruit tree seeds.  Even though he may not see the benefits of his investment immediately, over the years those handfuls of seeds will produce many trees and a wonderful abundance of fruit for consumption and sale.  The young man eagerly purchases many different kinds of seeds.  Upon realizing how easy and cheap they were to buy, and how the profits to be reaped are geometrically proportional to the investment of time and physical effort, the young man was not as careful as he should have been.  He lost some seeds here, threw some seeds at some birds there, planted some seeds too close to each other, and then did not properly take care of the trees that did eventually begin to grow.


The easy, almost sure investment, was nearly squandered largely due to a lack of use of his intelligence, a simple failure of adequate care and an almost surprising degree of flippancy.  True, a small part of his final relative failure may have been due to bad weather, occasional illness and other factors, but they were minor compared to his carelessness, inattention and perhaps even negligence.


That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal is clear.  Each one of us is given the incredible opportunity to harness our unique and individual portion in Torah during our lifetime.  The little seedlings with which we began--Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe, Shema Yisrael, Bereishis Bara--must be wisely planted and nurtured.  Even when they grow into full-sized trees, they must be properly watered, pruned and harvested.


Yet, many unfortunately do not follow the road to personal success.  A person drops seeds here, needlessly throws away seeds there, and does not take care of the tree when planted--by failing to keep his daily study commitment; not buying or reading a new Torah book or Sefer even if it is of interest to him; not joining a new shiur in Shul or watching a Shiur on www.torahanytime.com when he has some time at his computer, and not progressing (or feeling advancement) on a yearly basis in the Parashas HaShavua or in Halacha.  There are other examples--a five-minute Chavrusa, a telephone shiur (718-906-6400 is one example), Shemiras Halashon HaYomi, etc.  The possibilities are almost endless.  So much of our opportunities are free, and much of our learning can be done in a group setting, which also makes it easier.  We just have to be diligent, and care.


We are at the day after Shavuos!  If not now--then when is the time to evaluate and re-evaluate Torah’s place in our life?  Chazal (Chagiga 3A) actually provide one definition of a shoteh  (an insane person) as one who loses what is given to him.  We should not, c’v, place ourselves anywhere near that category--squandering those seedlings which can be nurtured into such big and beautiful fruit-bearing trees.


Rabbi Pincus actually teaches that we should view every five or ten minutes as one seed.  That is literally how powerful and meaningful every short period of Torah study can be.  If one throws away a seed of his time, then he has discarded not only the seed, but all of the neutrons, protons and electrons within it, the entire DNA , all of the life-filled potential bound within.


Just five minutes a day is 1,825 minutes a year.  Over twenty years, this amounts to 36,500 minutes, which is more than 600 hours.  According to the Vilna Gaon’s calculation, as explained by the Chofetz Chaim (see Shenos Eliyahu to Peah 1:1), if one would have been learning during these five minutes every day, he would have accumulated over 7 million mitzvos [Hakhel Note…and Talmud Torah K’negged Kulam]! We now can appreciate how taking care of that seedling could produce such a beautiful and glorious tree.


Let us make the commitment--Bli Neder--to especially and intentionally study just an additional five minutes of Torah a day--just so that we show how much we care about that seedling--no--that tree!



Special Note Four:  We provide the following post-Shavuos notes to our readers:


1.  In a pre-Shavuos Bulletin, we had mentioned that the term “Simcha” is used two times by the Torah relating to Shavuos, and suggested an explanation.  A reader noted a related explanation.  He writes that Rav Pam Z’tl would always emphasize that Limud HaTorah was always to be B’Simcha, with appreciation and joy for the opportunity.  Accordingly, one “Simcha” in the Torah could refer to the joy of Torah study on Shavuos itself, and the other “Simcha” to the joy one should feel and experience when studying Torah daily.


2.  We had discussed the concept of Shavuos being only one day, to emphasize the importance of even one day of Torah study.  A mashal provided by Rav Yaakov Neiman, Z’tl (Petach Tikva) further enlightens us in this area.  Before navigation systems (and even street lights) were invented, a Jew traveled at night along a dark highway, hoping to reach his important destination peacefully.  He came upon a fork in the road, and a sign in front of it.  However, because it was the middle of the night and rain clouds blocked the light of the moon, he could not even read the sign.  Suddenly, a bolt of lightning shot forth and illuminated the sign for a very brief moment.  Success!!  He now knew where he was going.  The road to the right was his path.  He needed no further instruction.  Shavuos provides us with that incredible illumination.  All we need to do now is keep ourselves on the road.  Hashem has done what He had to do--it’s now up to us.


3.  Chazal (Shabbos 88B) teach that the Malochim protested Hashem’s gift of the Torah to mankind, for the Torah was so divine, it belonged only in Heaven.  Moshe Rabbeinu was able to best them by showing that the Torah’s Mitzvos and prohibitions were (at least on a simple level) directed to human beings--do not steal, do not kill, do not speak Lashon Hara, etc…  The Malochim knew this, but they still believed that there was no place for the holy among the profane.  So how was Moshe Rabbeinu able to win his debate?  The Darchei Mussar (page 332) explains that Moshe Rabbeinu was able to convince them that while the Torah remaining in Heaven would make Heavenly life more beautiful, the Torah on Earth was much more than that--for it was as essential to life on this planet as the very air we breathe.


In fact, the Gemara (Pesachim 112A) relates that Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai visited Rebbi Akiva in jail and asked Rebbi Akiva to teach him Torah.  Rebbi Akiva refused to do so flagrantly in the presence of the Roman authorities, fearing for Rebbi Shimon’s well-being (Rebbi Akiva was already incarcerated for the very teaching of Torah).  Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai, unbelievable as it may sound, threatened his Rebbi with trumped-up charges against him to the government (apparently even worse charges than he had been jailed for)--unless he would teach him Torah!  What was this all about?  After all, Rebbi Akiva was only trying to protect Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai from the authorities!  And how could Rebbe Shimon threaten his Rebbi in this gross way?!  The answer seems to be that Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai was complaining to Rebbi Akiva that, without Torah to breathe, he faced such lowliness, such decadence, such a meaningless life, that he could actually become the lowest of lows-a moser--an informer--against his very own Rebbi!


Moshe Rabbeinu gave the Malochim an understanding of how the Earth--whose creation was also Hashem’s will--simply could not function without the life breath of Torah.  As we study Torah daily, we should really take a moment before, and/or during and/or after our study to recall Moshe Rabbeinu’s debate with the Malochim--and realize that we have Torah's precious words because it is our air, our joy, and because it put us on the road to our glorious destination.



Special Note Five:  With the new cycle of Pirkei Avos commencing this Shabbos, we continue with a thought for the coming week.  Firstly, we remind everyone of the wonderful thought from the Sefer Mincha Chadasha:  The meaning of “Kenai Lecha Chaver” is not necessarily limited to spending money to acquire a good friend--but can also refer to purchasing a “Chibur” or seforim from which to learn.  The Mincha Chadasha also learns that because the Mishna (Avos 1:2) teaches that the world stands on three pillars, Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasodim, one should try to accomplish all three as soon as possible every morning to do his/her part in keeping the world going!  One’s “Avodah” can be accomplished by his/her Avodah of the heart--i.e., davening, the pillar of “Torah” is accomplished by especially learning even if only for a few moments before or after davening--and the pillar of Chesed can be performed by making sure to perform some act of Chesed (for an individual or, if you are in Shul, for the Tzibur) before you leave your “davening time” or otherwise start your day.  Avos teaches us at its very outset (Perek 1, Mishna 2) that each and every person should keep the world going--and we can all easily do our part as we start the day ahead of us!



Special Note Six: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha'arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 100-125 women.   This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 10 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


Hakhel Note:  The Shiur is from 10:00AM until 11:00AM at Agudah of 18th Ave, 5413 18th Avenue. Rabbi Webster is currently giving the Shiur on Hilchos Tochein….


11. If one has a cluster containing superior and inferior grapes, how does one take the grapes that he wants?


One must remove only the superior grapes, leaving the inferior ones behind. The act of selecting must be done by hand, and must be for immediate use.


12. If one has mixed nuts and one prefers a certain type, what should one do?


One must remove only the nuts that he wants from the mixture and leave over the other nuts, even if the nuts he wants are the minority. Again, this must be done by hand, and must be for immediate use.


13. If one has a pile of mixed cutlery, may one set the table before one davens or goes to shul?


No, as stated above, one must satisfy all three conditions. Due to the fact that the cutlery is part of a mixed pile, there would be a prohibition of borer to set the table before davening for it is not considered as immediate use.


14. How does one define BeYad-by hand?


The selecting must be done by hand and not with the help of a utensil. This means that one may not use a specialized utensil for borer, e.g. sieve, sifter, colander, but could also include the use of an ordinary utensil, e.g. silverware, if the ordinary utensil is being used for selecting. However, if the utensil is being used purely as a matter of convenience for eating, then it is permitted to be used and is not considered as a specialized utensil for borer. See Question 15 below, for further discussion.


15. When is one permitted to use a fork, spoon or knife?


The invention of silverware was for the purpose of table manners, and was not created for selecting. Therefore, unless being used for selecting purposes, the Poskim generally consider using silverware as an extension of one’s hand. Example: One is permitted to use a fork, knife, spoon as an extension of one’s hand either because: 1) one does not want to get one’s hands dirty--e.g. one may use a fork, knife to eat fish so that he does not get his hands dirty, 2) one cannot reach the item without the help of the utensil--e.g. one cannot get to the bottom of a pot of cholent without the help of a utensil, or 3) one cannot eat the item without the help of the utensil-- e.g. one cannot peel an apple without the help of a utensil. However, once again, one is prohibited to use silverware if the purpose is not for table manners, but rather to perform and achieve borer--whereupon, the silverware becomes a utensil for borer.




5 Sivan

CHEESE CAKE !  In the Sefer Halachos of Brochos, Rebbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, provides the following direction on the brachos over cheese cake:


Bracha Rishona:  If made with a thin layer of dough (i.e., the dough is being used merely to enrich the appearance of the cake), the proper bracha to be recited is a shehakol; if made with a thick layer of dough (i.e., being used for sustenance and flavor), the proper bracha to be recited is mezonos.


Bracha Achrona: Because a kezayis of the mezonos is usually not eaten within a kedei achilas pras, in most cases the bracha achrona is borei nefashos (provided that between the cheese and the mezonos at least one kezayis is eaten within kedei achilas pras).


Hakhel Note:  We have discussed in the past the circumstance of cheese cake being made with corn flakes crumbs. One should discuss with his Rav or Posek as to the proper bracha in this event.


Additional Note:  One should make sure that his brachos over the cheese cake are joyous and inspired!




Special Note One:  Chazal (Shabbos 129B) teach that it is prohibited to be “makiz dam”--to let blood for healing purposes, on Erev Shavuos, lest the person put himself in sakana--in danger, by letting blood while not having properly prepared for his receiving of the Torah on Shavuos.  This is by no means homiletics.  The Rema in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim (468:10) brings this Chazal l’halacha--and the Mishna Berurah there even explains that it is forbidden to let blood on every Erev Yom Tov, so that he does not forget and let blood on Erev Shavuos.  (See Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 4:109 for a further discussion.)  While we may not let blood as a matter of course, the importance that even the halacha attaches to proper preparation of each and every one of us to receive the Torah on Shavuos is self-evident.


According to many sources, today is the day that K’lal Yisrael exclaimed:  Na’aseh V’Nishma”, and received the two crowns, perhaps also representing Torah Shebichsav and Torah Shebe’al Peh. Although we are now 3,335 years away from Har Sinai…we must feel and experience that tonight we received our crowning glory--then and forever!



Special Note Two:  We provide below several points and pointers relating to Yom Tov:


A. Remember that those very issues involved with moving mail are no different on Yom Tov than on Shabbos.


B.  For those who have trash pick-up over Yom Tov, please review with your Rav or Posek the permissibility of bringing trash cans out to the front of your home, or of bringing them back, on Yom Tov.


C.  The Ya’avetz writes that the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov on Shavuos is greater than on all the other Chagim, as it is the day that we received the world’s Prized Treasure--the Torah.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah powerfully comments that it is fitting for every member of Klal Yisrael to bring “Simcha Atzumah--great Simcha” into his heart and mind, and to remember to give thanks to Hashem for giving us a portion and lot in the Holy Nation. 


D.  Remember when making She'hechiyanu on the first night of Yom Tov to have in mind that you are reciting it over the Mitzvah of Yom Tov, the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov, and the completion of the Mitzvah of Sefira (which is like the building of the Sukkah before Sukkos!).  If you can, focus on the difference between those three precious words--Shehechiyanu, Kiymanu and Higianu!


E. It is the custom among many to eat honey (such as Challah dipped in honey, or foods with honey) on Shavuos because the Torah is compared to honey, as the Pasuk in Shir HaShirim teaches, “D’vash VeCholov Tachas Leshoneich--honey and milk (the Torah) is under your tongue.”


F.  HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, taught that one should daven for a Refuah Sheleima when the Aseres HaDibros are read on Shavuos morning--as Bnei Yisrael were healed then and we are re-experiencing that very Matan Torah anew!  A Rav advised us that he feels one can actually think about the Refuah Sheleima needed at the time the Aseres HaDibros are themselves being read.  If you would like to utilize the eitzah of a HaRav Elyashiv, you may want to consult with your Rav or Posek in advance as to his opinion on the optimum time and method of accomplishing this great task!  Bracha VeHatzlacha!  


Hakhel Note One:  Some try to be at or near the Sefer Torah when the Aseres HaDibros are being read, so that they can directly glean the healing effect!


Hakhel Note Two:  Let us remember that just as the Aseres Hadibros were first heard in Fear and Awe, we, too, no matter how tired we may be should feel the awe and power of the occasion, for we are re-living through the moment once again!


G.  For Ashkenazim in Chutz LaAretz, until the Moshiach comes, Shavuos is the last time Birchas Kohanim is recited in 5773.  We wish to remind our readers that the Bi’ur Halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim: 128, Introduction) brings from the Sefer Chareidim that just as the Kohanim fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh when they bless K’lal Yisrael, so, too, do the Bnei Yisrael have a part of the Mitzvah when they stand in silence and have Kavannah to receive the Bracha from the Kohanim!


H.  Since the term “Bais Yaakov” is first mentioned right here at Kabbalas HaTorah, women must also be astute to study that which they especially need to know as the Mitzvos of women.  We may add that one of these crucial areas--as learned from Rus on Shavuos--is Tznius.  Women may not realize this--but men, whether or not justifiably, may not know the Halachos of Tznius--and rely upon women (including their wives and daughters) to be doing the right thing.  As all kinds of exercise garments worn under or with clothing become more prevalent, as shorter and closer fitting becomes more in secular vogue making it difficult to obtain other styles, and as the warmer summer months approach--every Jewish woman as a charter member of the Bais Yaakov--should view it as her responsibility to know what to do, and to help others that she is close to as well.  The Halachos that she knows and practices--(from age 5 to age 120) have an impact not only upon her--but LITERALLY on all of K’lal Yisrael--for as we know in the order of the Pasuk (Shemos 19:3), FIRST the Bais Yaakov is addressed...and only afterwards do we get to the Bais Yisrael!  It is the Bnos Yisrael who start the rest of us on the track of Kedusha and Kabbalas HaTorah.  Accordingly, perhaps now is the special time to likewise be mekabel bli neder something new and special in the area of Tznius!  May the zechus stand by and for you, your family and K’lal Yisrael in its stead.



Special Note Three:  On Shavuos itself, we should take the time to rethink the Torah, and the Torah’s place in our lives. As we recite three times daily in Shemone Esrei, the Torah is a Toras Chaim--a Torah of life itself! Among the suggested items for contemplation are:


A. We are taught that the Torah is comprised entirely of Sheimos of Hashem, in ways that we do not understand. We should accordingly recognize in all instances its unfathomable depth. It is no coincidence, as it never is, that the Parshas HaShavuah before Shavuos is Bamidbar, which relates to our encampment in the Midbar, and which does not appear to be directly related to us. Then in the Parsha after Shavuos, we read about the twelve Nesi’im, each of whom seemingly brought exactly the same Korbanos, yet for each and every one the Torah repeats the same Korbanos separately.  The Torah seems to be emphasizing to us with these Parshios which are read immediately before and after the giving of the Torah, that although we cannot fathom it--we must appreciate the Torah’s pure ruchniyus and amkus and always be awed by its every word and letter!


B.  Chazal teach that Hashem said:  “I created the Yetzer Hara, and I created the Torah as its antidote”. The Yetzer Hara is so unrelenting--attacking from so many directions, and coming back, and back, and back. A reader commented to us that if he does not have enough challenges in raising his children from iPods and iPhones--how did baseball cards come back into vogue?!  This is the strength of the Yetzer Hara--not letting himself get down, and always looking for new and old avenues of approach. Yet, remarkably, the Torah can defeat that Yetzer--its study can give the person the resolve, the dedication, the wisdom, and the added measure of Hashem’s personal assistance--in defeating the Yetzer and succeeding at life!


C. Chazal teach that Torah is not found in tagarim and sachranim--in long-distance and short-distance merchants and traders. The obvious question is--many of us must earn a living--what are we to do and yet properly relate to and study Torah? We suggest that it is a matter of attitude. What is the ikar, and what is the tofel? Does one prioritize or push aside his work for Torah study or his Torah study for work? Does one rearrange his Torah study, his davening, his Chesed around his business schedule or appointments--or vice versa?  To be sure, if a Chavrusah, Shiur or Seder must be rearranged, one must make sure that it is on an extremely infrequent basis. One should encourage others in the primacy of Torah as well….


D.  It is fascinating to note that when reciting the Birkos HaTorah, we first recite the bracha of La’asok BeDivrei Torah, and then continue with VeHa’arev Nah (please make my Torah learning sweet). A great Rav pointed out that Chazal (by making this the order of Birkos HaTorah), are teaching us that one should study even though it appears difficult and not sweet at first--for through the initial effort--the sweetness will come!


E.  There were Asarah Ma’amaros in which the world was created (Avos 5:1) and there are Aseres HaDibros which directly correspond to these Asarah Ma’amaros in which the world was created. Rashi (ibid.) explains that must understand and appreciate that the creation of the entire world was for the Torah and now rests on the Torah--and that it is our unparalleled privilege and our bearing to maintain the world’s existence--until we can bring it through the Torah and its Mitzvos--to its final successful conclusion! We should be moved to sing Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu happily and heartily on Shavuos (and more often as well)!



Special Note Four:  Matan Torah--the delivery of the infinite blueprint from HaKadosh Baruch Hu--at no charge--to each and every one of us!  The Torah describes in unusual detail the awe of the event, and this description is also a primary focus of the bracha of Shofaros on Rosh Hashanah.  We provide below from the Sefer Ma’amad Har Sinai (by Rav Shlomo Rosner, Shlita) a small portion of the description of Matan Torah, as culled from the Gemara and Midrashim-- which forever changed world history, our history--and each of our lives.  The import, extent and unparalleled nature of the event is described in and by the Torah itself (Devorim 4:32, 33) with the words:  Ki She’al Na …--When you ask of the earlier days from the day Hashem created man on the earth, and from one end of the heaven to the other…has there ever been anything like this…has a people ever heard the voice of Hashem speaking from the midst of a fire as you have heard….?!”


Just some of the wondrous events brought by Rav Rosner, Shlita:


  1. The lightning bolts and thunder were not uniform and consistent, but were different from each other to add to the reverence and uniqueness of the occasion.  The thunder could be seen, and the lightning bolts heard.

  2. The Shofar sound did not weaken--but strengthened as it continued--and the blast could be heard worldwide.

  3. 600,000 ministering Malachim came to attend, and rested on Har Sinai itself.

  4. Har Sinai was raised from its place, and was suspended in midair with the B’nei Yisrael standing underneath it.

  5. Although many were wounded and maimed from the years of slavery in Mitzrayim, they were all healed.  Moreover, they were healed from spiritual and mental illness as well, and there were no zavim, metzoraim, or shotim.  The zuhama, the spiritual contamination planted in man by the nachash was removed from us, so that we would have the quality of Adam before the chait.

  6. The mountain itself was burning, with its fire reaching the heavens.

  7. The Seven Heavens opened up to the Kisei HaKavod--with more being revealed to the B’nei Yisrael than was revealed to Yechezkel HaNavi and Yeshaya HaNavi in their visions of the Merkava.

  8. The Seven Tehomos (Depths) below also opened, so that B’nei Yisrael understood that Hashem was singular in all worlds, and “Ain Od Milvado--there is nothing else but for Hashem.”

  9. The mountains of Tavor and Carmel in Eretz Yisrael were uprooted from their place and came to Midbar Sinai.

  10. The World was still and silent--the sun remained in one place, seas did not move, birds did nor chirp or fly, the animals were silent.  Even the Serafim did not say “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh….”

  11. Tal, a special Dew, fell to revive the B’nei Yisrael after their souls had left them from the awe of the Dibros.

  12. The letters of each of the Aseres HaDibros could be seen as they were said.

  13. Every nation heard each Dibur in its own language, so that it could not later claim that “had it heard…”

  14. With each Dibur, the World became filled with the aroma of besamim.


We have provided above 14 special details of Matan Torah at Har Sinai.  In fact, there are 14 Azkaros--Hashem’s name is mentioned a total of 14 times--in the Aseres HaDibros.  The Tashbatz writes that there are also 14 Azkaros in the Sheva Brachos that we recite at a Chasuna and the days following in celebration.  Indeed, a great wedding is taking place this Shavuos--and you are one of the Ba’alei Simcha--so celebrate!






4 Sivan




A.  Har Sinai has six names.  Can you provide them, and the meaning behind each name?  See Midrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar, Piska 7.


B.  The Yerushalmi teaches that each one of the Aseres HaDibros is alluded to in Kriyas Shema.  Can you find them?  See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 61, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 2.


AS SHAVUOS APPROACHES, we provide the following important reminders as to Kashrus standards for cleaning blueberries and grapes. We note that other agencies or Rabbanim may have different standards, and every person should follow his Rav or Posek in this area. 


A.  Blueberries. (Va’ad HaKashrus of the Five Towns) Thrips can be found on the top of the berry near the hole.  Until recently, cultivated premium blueberries (Grade A) were able to be used without any special preparation.  However, blueberries have been found, both in the U.S. and in Eretz Yisrael, to have thrips on the top of the blueberry near the hole.  Therefore, the following simple process should be followed.  Note: The following steps are for premium blueberries (Grade A) and to the exclusion of wild blueberries that can be found in the country or other similar areas which can be infested with insects. 


Steps for Cleaning Blueberries

1.  Fill up a large receptacle with water and a soapy solution. The receptacle should be large enough to accommodate the amount of product you are using and still enable you to vigorously agitate the berries as described below. The amount of soapy solution should be enough to make the water feel slippery and be “sudsy”.

2.  The product should be completely submerged in the water and allowed to soak for three minutes.

3.  Vigorously agitate the berries in the soapy solution.

4.  Remove the blueberries from the receptacle, place them in a colander and rinse them very thoroughly, making sure the stream of water reaches all the berries.

5.  No further inspection is necessary.


B. Grapes. (Kehilah Kashrus--Brooklyn, New York)


Steps for Cleaning Grapes

1.  Place cluster of grapes in a large receptacle or sink filled with water. Larger clusters should be broken down to manageable sizes.

2.  Hold cluster firmly and thoroughly agitate in a circular motion, first in one direction and then in the other direction. 

3.  Refill or fill another large receptacle or sink with very soapy water, then fully submerge and soak grapes for 5 minutes.

4.  Repeat step #2 in the soapy water.

5. Under a heavy stream of water rinse grapes very well. (Please be sure water pressure is very strong)

6.  No further inspection is necessary.




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 132 and 133:


132.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Niddah--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with a woman who is in a niddah status, and has not become tahor through tevilah in a mikvah. If one engages in a forbidden relationship with her, the punishment is kares (if done intentionally) or a korban chatas (if done unintentionally), and if a child is born, the child is a pagum. A woman is also considered a niddah after childbirth, and must observe different periods depending upon whether a son or a daughter is born. The Torah repeats that if one violates this prohibition, it is considered to be a to’eivah which is metameh ha’aretz and metameh hanefesh. If one violates this prohibition he is considered a rasha gamur, is pasul l’eidus is called a poshei yisrael begufo. The Chofetz Chaim then further describes his horrific punishment, and urges that one combat the modern day Yetzer Hara in this area, by living in a place where the halachos can be properly observed.


133.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Kedeisha--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with a woman who is mafkirah atmzah lezenus. If one engages in a forbidden relationship with her for immoral purposes, they both violate this prohibition. This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.



Special Note Two:  The Sefer Kav HaYashar (Chapter 92) poses the question: If the Yomim Tovim of Pesach and Sukkos span seven days, why is it that Shavuos, over which there is so much to celebrate, is observed for only one day?  The Sefer brings an answer, “al pi kabala”, that Shavuos is rooted in Hashem’s oneness, and that our oneness as a “Goy Echad Ba’Aretz” then stems from Hashem’s oneness, all of which is symbolized by the oneness of Shavuos.  Of course, the profundity of this concept is enormous, and we are already ahead by just acknowledging its depth.  We may add an additional simple suggestion as to the one day nature of our beloved Zeman Matan Toraseinu:  It teaches us the power of One Day.  In just one day, one can go up to Shomayim and receive a Torah--in only one day one can accomplish so much in Torah study, and yes, just one day can mean the difference between you and billions of others on this planet--so how can we let even one day go by without some kind of meaningful Torah study?


Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim (Chomas HaDas, Chapter 8) writes that through Torah study, each person in accordance with his potential, one builds his palace in Olam Haba, day by day, brick by brick.  Have you ever noticed houses undergoing construction which stop and start, stop and start, stop and start, their construction?  Some days there are no workers there, some days just a few. The building process seems almost endless, and, in some cases does not get completed, or at least completed properly, because of all the inconsistency, the delays, the jumps and reversals, otherwise absent in the day-to-day consistency to completion.  You do not need 20 workers there, if everyone has his job, and knows what to do--daily, until completion.


A wise person once noted that the last pasuk of the second parsha of Shema states: “LeMaa’an Yirbu Yemeichem....Kimei HaShomayim Al Ha’Aretz...--[In the merit of Mitzvah observance your days will be] increased like the days of the Heavens on the Earth--what does this mean?  What do increased days have to do with Heavens on the Earth?  The answer may be that if we look up to the Heavens for our days, if we make each day heavenly, by learning and living what Moshe Rabbeinu was able to wrest away from the angels on high, then our days are literally Heaven here on Earth.


As we are about to take the Heaven’s treasure, we should remember that the Torah uses the word “simcha” twice in discussing the holiday of Shavuos.  Our joy is twofold, for we not only received the Torah on that great day more than 3300 years ago, but we commit to take this remarkable gift, compared to water and fire, to bread and wine, to milk and honey, and use it as our daily guide to navigate the pathways of Heaven on Earth.  A real Shavuos inspiration should bring us to remember this primacy throughout the year--especially at those very times when the Heavens feel oh so distant.  A Torah bite at lunch, a shiur on CD in the car between errands, a vort before going to sleep, sharing a Torah thought with a friend while exercising, all serve to remove those roadblocks, eliminate the weighty sandbags, and raise us up very high--as we see the Earth meeting our Heaven! It should happen to each and every one of us!



Special Note Three: A few notes on davening over the next several days:


A.  Every day, three times a day at the very end of Shemone Esrei, we ask Hashem for V’Sein Chelkenu B’Sorasecha--grant us a share in Your Torah.  Let us make sure that these words do not ‘slip by us’ over the next several days.  We importantly add that in each of the Shabbos and Yom Tov Tefillos before reciting Boruch Atta Hashem MeKadeish HaShabbos or MeKadeish Yisroel V’Hazemanim, we also plead the very same words--V’Sein Chelkenu B’Sorasecha!  What more auspicious and propitious time could there be for reciting these words slowly and with Kavannah than the next several days!  Please recall the words of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, we had recently brought, in which he taught that for one’s Torah learning to have a Kiyum, he has to keep on davening and davening to Hashem for it. 


B.  We provide by clicking here a beautiful Tefillah sent to us by a reader that the Shlah HaKadosh provides to be recited after one concludes his learning on Leil Shavuos!


C.  Reminder:  Because on Shavuos we are judged on Pairos HaIlan (fruits of the tree), many have the custom to daven for a beautiful Esrog on Shavuos.  Our Tefillos should be focused on Hiddur Mitzvah--enhancing the Mitzvah of Esrog--in the year 5774! 


D.  Let us make sure that we remember to have special Kavanna when reciting Birkos HaTorah.  The Shulchan Aruch actually teaches (Orach Chaim 47:1): “One must be very careful with Birkos HaTorah.”  The Mishna Berurah explains that, according to many Rishonim, Birkos HaTorah is Mid’Oraysa, and that one must make the Brachos “BeSimcha Gedola--with great happiness,” recognizing that Torah is not just another study--and adds that we must be sure to express our special thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu in choosing us to be the recipient of His “Clei Chemdoso”--His treasured possession!



Special Note Four:  HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, provides the following insights on the study of Torah, as culled from the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (4:3), and the Sefer Ruach Chaim (on the Sixth Perek of Pirkei Avos):


A.  The reason that one of the qualities needed to acquire Torah is:  HaOmer Davar B’Sheim Omro--to say something over in the name of one who originated it, is because by knowing who said it, one will be able to associate his other opinions that he has studied, and formulate a consistency in approach by a particular Tanna, Amora, or anyone else.  He is thus not simply amassing knowledge, but is able to associate, combine, deduce and explain.  It is therefore essential for us to try to remember the names of the Tanna, Amora, or other Torah personality who had expressed the statement--for our own Torah--and the Torah in general will be enhanced!


B.  Before studying, one should be meharher in Yiras Hashem.  As Rebbi Chanina Ben Dosa teaches (Avos 3:11):  Kol Sheyiras Cheto Kodemes L’Chachmaso, Chachmaso Miskayemes--he whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, will have his wisdom endure.  One should also have a hirhur of Teshuvah so that his study of Torah is Betahara. 


C.  When a person is MeChadesh a Chiddush, he should realize that this is something that a Malach cannot do(!). His joy in having the privilege of learning and delving deeper into Hashem’s greatest of gifts should be K’Nesinasam MiSinai--as the joy we experienced when we received the Torah at Sinai.  When one learns Torah with joy for an hour, he will learn much more than if he learns without joy--even for several hours.  Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Eglei Tal powerfully echoes this thought with the words:  Ki Zeh He Ikar Mitzvas Limud HaTorah LiHeyos Sos V’Sameach U’Mishaneg BeLimudo VeAz Divrei Torah Nivlaim BeDamo U’MeiAchar Sheneheneh MeDivrei Torah Hu Na’aseh Davuk L’Torah--when one studies Torah for the sake of the Mitzvah and rejoices in his studies, the words of Torah become absorbed into his bloodstream, and because he has enjoyed his learning he becomes one with the Torah.”  Indeed, the Eglei Tal writes that Yetzer HaTov is Misgadel Mitoch Simcha Shel Torah.  When one learns L’Sheim Mitzvah, with joy, his Yetzer HaTov continues to become greater and greater! 


D.  An essential aspect of our Torah study is that it be Lishma.  What does Lishma mean?  According to HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, it means L’Sheim HaTorah--one must study, understand and expound upon the Torah for the sake of Torah study itself.  One must seek to get to the truth according to the best of his capabilities, and one should be driven to delve deeper and deeper into his Torah study because of his Chavivus HaTorah and Ahavas HaTorah.  One must recognize that there are two aspects to Torah--one is to know what the Torah requires in order to fulfill it--this is Yediyas HaTorah.  The second is Eisek HaTorah--making Torah study an end and not just a means to an end.  Thus, Lishma means that one must toil and study Torah in depth to gain greater and greater understanding of the Torah itself--even without the practical Mitzvah applications.  The more one delves into Torah for its own sake, the more light one sees.  The matter can be compared to entering into the King’s palace and going further and further towards the throne room from inner room to inner room--with each inner room shining with more light than the previous one.  Hakhel Note:  Based upon this Yesod, the Bais HaLevi (in his introduction to the Sefer Bais HaLevi) is able to answer the following two questions:  (A) Chazal teach that when the Bnei Yisroel said Na’aseh (we will do) before Nishma (we will hear) they merited to have two crowns--why was it only because they put Na’aseh before Nishma (we will listen) did they merit two crowns?; and (2) Why in actuality did they not say Nishma V’Na’aseh--let us listen and [then we will be able to] do--would that not have been more sensible? The answer is that these two words represent the two separate and distinct aspects of Torah study--Na’aseh--we have to know what to do, and Nishma--we have to learn Torah for its own sake.  If we had simply exclaimed Nishma V’Na’aseh--it would have appeared as if we wanted to study the Torah only in order to properly perform the Mitzvos--that there is only one reason and purpose for Torah study.  Once, however, we put the Na’aseh first, we affirmatively demonstrated that one reason to study Torah is for us to know how to properly perform the Mitzvos, and beyond that there is a separate and distinct reason--Nishmah-- the delving into Torah Lishma--for its own sake.  This is how we were zoche to two crowns--for the two distinctive and very special Kabbalos!



1 Sivan


RICOLA--FROM KEHILAH KASHRUS OF FLATBUSH: Subsequent to a great deal of research by the CRC of Chicago, the following flavors of Ricola Drops have been found to be acceptable for use in our establishments TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL OTHER RICOLA VARIETIES: Green Tea with Echinacea (sugar free), Honey Herb, Honey Lemon with Echinacea, Lemon Mint (sugar free), Lemon Mint, Lemon Verbena, Menthol (sugar free), Mountain Herb (sugar free), Natural Herb (original)”


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


A. Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh, is the Yom HaMeyuchas--the day upon which Hashem told Bnei Yisrael: “V’Heyisem Li Segulah Mikol Ho Amim” (Shemos 19:5, and Rashi there)--You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples.  What a great day--to be declared the greatest treasure of all peoples by the Creator of all!  Accordingly, especially this Shabbos, we should try to perform at least one Mitzvah with at least a little more preparation, kavannah, and zeal glowing--while knowing and showing that you are--literally--Hashem s prized possession!


Additional Note:  Some say that the second day of Sivan is known as the Yom HaMeyuchas because it does not have its own Segulos, but rather because it views itself as having a relationship with the day before (Rosh Chodesh) and the days after (the Sheloshes Yemei Hagbalah).  This is a tremendous level--looking to and joining together with-- the maalos of others, and it is this that we must emulate!


B.   Rebbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki, Z tl asked if Shabbos HaGadol is the Shabbos before Pesach and Shabbos Shuvah is the Shabbos before Yom Kippur, what is the Shabbos before Shavuos known as?  He answered that it is Shabbos Derech Eretz--a Shabbos in which one works on his Middos--because Derech Eretz is Kadma L Torah!


C.  Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha'arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 100-125 women.   This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 5 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


Hakhel Note:  The Shiur is from 10:00AM until 11:00AM at Agudah of 18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue . Rabbi Webster is currently giving the Shiur on Hilchos Tochein….


The answer to Question 1 (last week) has been revised and is as follows:


1. What is the definition of Borer?


Borer is defined as improving a mixture that consists of different types of items by selecting, sorting, separating or organizing items in the mixture. In order for an action to qualify as borer, the action must constitute an improvement to the mixture. If the action does not make any kind of improvement, then it is not an act of borer. Example: One has a bowl containing a cluster of grapes. The bowl contains superior and inferior grapes (even though the inferior grapes are edible, they are of a poorer quality than the rest of the grapes in the cluster). In order improve the mixture, making it easier to eat, one would remove the inferior quality grape and leave the one of superior quality.


We now continue with Questions 6-10:


6. What are “different” items that constitute a mixture?


Different items include not only items that are obviously different, but also:


·        Items that are naturally present--such as bones in fish

·        Different items of the same type--such as different types of nuts mixed together

·        See Question and Answer 7 for additional detail


7.  In the following pairs, which are considered the same, and which are considered to be “different”, constituting a mixture?


roast chicken and  boiled chicken

panty hose and knee highs

boiled meat and roasted meat

black socks and blue socks

sweet apples and sour apples

burnt popcorn and non-burnt popcorn

large oranges and small oranges

forks and knives

soup spoons and tea spoons

big plates and small plates


In all of the above cases, the pairs are considered two different items constituting a mixture to which the Halachos of Borer apply. We define “different” also by different taste and different function, even if they are from the same ‘family’ type. The one possible exception to the pairs above being considered “different” is in the case of oranges, as it may not make a practical difference if the oranges are larger or smaller.


8. In order for one not to perform the Melacha of Borer, what conditions must be met?


    There are three conditions that must be met, all three conditions must be satisfied in order to permit Borer:


(1) Ochel Mitoch Pesoles--the Ochel must be taken from the Pesoles, and not vice versa

(2) BeYad--the Ochel must be removed by hand

(3) MiYad-- the Ochel must be removed for immediate use.


9. What is the definition of each of the conditions that is stated in Question 8?


(1) Ochel Mitoch Pesoles--the first condition is that one must select the good (the item that one wants to eat or use) from the mixture

(2) BeYad--the second condition is that the selection must be done by hand (or an extension of the hand, such as cutlery) and not through a specialized utensil for this purpose (such as a sieve)  

(3) MiYad-- the third condition is that the Ochel is being selected to eat immediately, or for immediate use


10. If the above three conditions are all satisfied, why does that make Borer permissible?


With respect to food, selecting in a manner in which these three conditions are satisfied is considered as Derech Achila--the normal manner of eating. There is a distinction in Halacha between an action that is considered as Derech Achila and an action that is done for borer. Any action that is done through an act of borer is always prohibited. However, an if the action is performed Derech Achila, then  it is permitted because it is an act of eating and not an act of borer. In other words:


(1) Ochel Mitoch Pesoles--when one eats, one takes the desired item from the undesired item.

(2) BeYad--when one eats, one eats by hand and not with the use of a specialized vessel. The use of a fork and knife is an extension of the hand.

(3) MiYad-- when one selects food to eat, one does so immediately prior to eating.




1. Today we begin the cycle of the Sefer Praying with Fire II, which is an absolutely outstanding Sefer on Emunah and on the advanced (but not esoteric) study of Tefillah.

We provide below the moving words of the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos on the sheer importance of appropriate focus on proper Tefillah.  The translation below is substantially excerpted from the outstanding Feldheim English translation Duties of the Heart:


“Look into the meaning of the words of your Tefillos, and the intention of their contents, so that when you recite them before Hashem you will understand the words you are uttering and what it is that your heart is asking for.  Do not [continue to] act in a haphazard fashion, without understanding the meaning [of what you are saying].  Contemplate them….”


Hakhel Note:  We are tempted to, but will not, (because you are too old for it) provide a money-back guarantee for all of those who purchase Praying with Fire II and go through the cycle--and do not have a greater appreciation and understanding of what Emunah is, and how, when and why to daven!


2.  Today, we also begin the first day in the new cycle of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim and in its related English language Seforim.  How can we re-energize ourselves in this life-giving cycle, which has provided (and will continue to provide) personal Yeshuos for so many--and will hopefully hasten the Geulah Sheleima in our day?  Once again, we provide the following rejuvenation suggestions for the coming Shemiras HaLashon cycle HaBa’ah Aleinu LeTova:


A.  Learn as a Zechus for something or someone in particular, and so state before each study session.


B.  Read the daily portion out loud, instead of just with your eyes.


C.  Change the Sefer that you learned the last cycle, as there are so many wonderful Seforim to choose from.


D.  After reading the daily portion with your lips, re-read it--reviewing it immediately. In the alternative, read the daily portion in the morning, and then again in the afternoon or evening. This would be a beautiful hiddur!


D.  Spend five-ten minutes to learn the daily portion with a family member or friend.  A Chavrusa always helps sharpen the study, and gives chizuk to its members.


E.  Even if you cannot learn with a Chavrusa, make it a point to talk to someone about the day’s study.


F.  Keep the Sefer you are learning on your desk or table at home as a daily reminder for Shemiras HaLashon. 


G.  Pass on the following information to as many people as you can, and keep it on hand to continuously pass on:  To order Shemiras Halashon tapes, books, learning programs and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s free catalog call at 866-593-8399.  For free Shiurim in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim call the Chazal Hotline at 718-258-2008 (press 5).  For the Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline (expert Poskim in Shemiras HaLashon to anonymously answer your real-life Shailah before saying the right or wrong thing), please call 718-951-3696, between the hours of 9:00PM until 10:30PM (EST).


H.  Observe a one or two hour Machsom L’fi daily.  For further information on Machsom L’fi please call 845-352-3505.


I.  Recite the complete Tefillah of the Chofetz Chaim on Shemira HaLashon daily, provided by clicking here.  The Chofetz Chaim himself writes at the end of the Sefer Chovos HaShemira that one should recite this Tefillah in the morning after davening, or at any other time that he is able.  There is, of course, a shortened version of this Tefillah--but recitation of the extended version may demonstrate a re-dedication on your part for the new cycle. 


J.  Many high schools and elementary schools now have programs through the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation in Shemiras HaLashon.  Make it a point to ask your child or another child what they learned to be mechazek them.


K.  Check yourself at the end of each day before retiring--and determine whether you have stopped yourself from speaking or listening to Lashon Hara or Rechilus at least one time during the day. 



Special Note Three:  Today is Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the day upon which Bnei Yisrael entered Midbar Sinai, and changed the history of the World.  This month’s mazal is Teumim (Gemini, or twins).  The Sefer HaTodaah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, suggests that the reason for this is that both Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen were together essential in bringing the Torah to our people!



Special Note Four:  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 Rebbi 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, 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 Evehn 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?


At the Internet Asifa in New York almost exactly one year ago, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, suggested that perhaps we select an “Internet Mesechta” [or “Internet Mishnayos”, or “Internet Sefer Tanach”] which one studies in lieu of the few minutes he would have otherwise engaged in himself in ‘traveling about’ or reading interesting items on the Internet.


The first step in all events is reflection.


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 HaMidrash?!


Special Note Five:  Each one of the Shalosh Regalim is keneged one of the Avos.  Pesach--Avraham; Shavuos--Yitzchak, and Succos--Yaakov.  The relationships between each Chag and each one of the Avos is clear.  Our Avodah then, the service of Hashem that we look to, for Shavuos, is the particular service for which Yitzchok Avinu is most noted.  Yitzchak’s trait is Avodah and Yirah--Service of Hashem with awe.  Matan Torah demonstrates our acceptance, over all of the other nations of the world, of Avodas Hashem, and we recall the Yirah--the awe of Matan Torah itself--every day in Birchas HaTorah as we recite the words “VeNasan Lanu Es Toraso”.  In fact, Rav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, said that he heard from his Rebbi, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, that we received the Torah in order for us to always remember the Yirah of that day!

As we are now less than a week before Shavuos, we should consciously prepare not by searching for Chometz or building a Sukkah, but by thinking about the eternally awesome sight of Matan Torah, and by thinking about “Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid--placing Hashem’s Presence before us”--at different points of the day.  In this way, we will raise our level of Awe before Him--throughout the day.

Additional Note:  Just as each one of the Shalosh Regalim is keneged each one of the Avos, so too, is each one of our daily Tefillos instituted by a different one of the Avos:  Avrohom--Shacharis, Yitzchok--Mincha, and Yaakov--Ma’ariv.  It would behoove us then, as we strive to emulate Yitzchak Avinu, to improve the Avodah of our Tefillas Mincha in the coming week, as well.  It is no secret that of the three Tefillos, Mincha is the most difficult to focus upon, for it is strategically placed in the middle and course of one’s daily activities.  We can well understand why it is that Chazal tell us that “A person must always be careful with Tefillas Mincha, for Eliyahu HaNavi was answered against the hundreds of nevi’ei haba’al at this time.”  Let us make the extra-special effort in the coming days at Mincha time, so that we build toward the Avodah and Yirah of Yitzchak on Shavuos--and become zoche to receive the Torah as expected of us--through the Middos of Yitzchok Avinu!

Special Note Six:  Chazal (Horios 13B) list items which cause one to forget one’s learning, and items which assist one to remember one’s learning.  One of the items that causes one to forget one’s learning is when one is ‘HaRagil B’Zaisim (one who is used to eat olives), and one that has a positive effect on learning is when one is ‘HaRagil B’Shemen Zayis (one who is used to using olive oil).  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, points out that the Torah’s admonition of “Rak Hishamer Lecha U’Shemor Nafshecha Me’od Pen Tishkach--only beware for yourself lest you forget...” (Devarim 4:9), may very well apply to one who is lax in this area and acts without concern regarding items which cause one to forget their learning.  He recalls that the Steipeler, Z’tl, would basically not eat olives, because he was unsure as to what the standard was of ‘Regilus’--one who is ‘used to’ consuming olives.  Hakhel Note:  When we find things in Chazal (and in Halacha) which are Kashe LeShichecha (cause a person to forget), we should take them quite seriously--as the precious amount of Torah that we do possess is at the epitome of our accomplishments--which we must do our utmost to retain!



Special Note Seven:  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, likewise explains that it is no coincidence (as it never is) that the Parsha almost always read before Shavuos is Parshas Bamidbar, which counts the individual members of Bnei Yisroel.  The Torah is teaching us that each and every one of us counts, and that no one can hide behind his Rabbi’s frock, his profession’s desk, or his living room sofa.  Furthermore, Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl explains the Posuk which states that the Torah was given in front of “Kohl Yisrael” teaches us that even if one member of K’lal Yisroel had been missing, the Torah would not have been given(!).


So what are we really to do?  We could try to review the 48 ways to acquire the Torah found in this week’s Chapter of Pirkei Avos (6:6), and select at least one way to work on.  HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z'tl, suggests the following, as well:  Work on the honor due to Torah study.  He explains that the reason the Torah was given “B’Kolos U’Vrokim”--with loud noise and thunder--is to forever instill within us the attitude and approach that one should not learn Torah with his face leaning on his elbow, or slouched over, head back, sefer on lap....you get the picture(s).  This could be a very significant Kabbala--resolution, for a person to monumentally increase the quality of his Torah study.


Over the next several days, let us not get sidetracked--but instead let us make the effort to remember that we too will be receiving the Torah this Shavuos.  We know that Hashem counts us and is counting on us.  Now, let us take the time to count ourselves in!




29 Iyar

Special Note One: Today is the Yom Kippur Koton for Rosh Chodesh Sivan. The Shelah HaKadosh composed a Tefillah to be recited by parents for their children—especially on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan. Of course, the Tefillah can be recited any time as well. We would like to thank Artscroll for providing the Tefillah of the Shelah HaKadosh to us in Hebrew and English by the following link: http://www.artscroll.com/parentprayer.html For those familiar with the Hebrew, we attach a slightly longer version of the Tefillah from our website available at the following link -  http://tinyurl.com/4u6epl  



Special Note Two: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 129-130 and 131:


129-130.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Achos Aviv/Achos Imo--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with the sister of one’s father or the sister of one’s mother. If one engages in a forbidden relationship with her, the punishment is kares (if done intentionally) or a korban chatas (if done unintentionally). This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.


131.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Achos Ishto--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with his wife’s sister during his wife’s lifetime. If one engages in a forbidden relationship with her, the punishment is kares (if done intentionally) or a korban chatas (if done unintentionally). This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.



Special Note Three:  It is now less than one week to Shavuos…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 Succos.  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 Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 529, seif koton 2) quoting Chazal (Baitza, 16A), writes that a person’s exact income is determined on Rosh Hashana, 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, Almanah, 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 the one day of Shavuos; the various Karbonos, including the one-time-a-year Kivsei Atzeres and Shtai Halechem, the 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 Ir Hakodesh!



Special Note Four:  Dovid HaMelech teaches us in Tehillim (119:59): “Chishavti Derachai…”--I had many things to do, when I was unsure what to do I would go to the Beis Midrash and study.  (translation based upon the Alter of Novordak).  When we are unsure what to do, Dovid HaMelech teaches us, we turn to Torah--we allow the physical to be guided by the spiritual and not vice versa.


We are probably all familiar with the story told by Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, about his predecessor at the OU, Rabbi Alexander Rosenberg.  The story go something like this:  “I remember how Rabbi Rosenberg would just sit there and silently listen to the latest proposals which the salesmen claimed would enhance Rabbi Rosenberg and the stature of the OU, in addition to being a great boon to civilization.  Rabbi Rosenberg would patiently wait for the salesman to make his spiel and then he would just peer at him with those hooded blue eyes.  Then he would pounce, falcon-like and ask just one question that was comprised of but four words--'Und Vos Zugt Gott? (and what does G-d say?)  Would you tell the IRS such a story?'”


Throughout the day we must make decisions, some more difficult, and some less problematic.  In all instances if we reflect for a moment, and pull ourselves into our Bais HaMidrash before we make the decision--before we decide what to do or which way to turn, we will be looking at what G-d has to say, and will be following the path of royalty--of Dovid HaMelech…and ultimately of Moshiach!!



Special Note Five:  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei 3:18 , “Eitz Chaim Hi Lamachazikim Bah--it is a tree of life for those who grasp it.”  Many raise the question--shouldn’t the phrase be “Lamachazikim Osah--it is a tree of life to those who support it?”  One beautiful p’shat related is that we do not support the Torah--it is the Torah that supports us--if we grasp on to it.  Just as the Aron is “Nosei Es Nosav”--the Kohanim were even carried over the Yarden River by the Aron (!), so, too, does the Torah carry us through our Olam Hazeh, if we are “Machazikim Bah.”  Based upon this thought, it is very well understood why we recite this Posuk as we put the Torah away into the Aron HaKodesh--for we indicate that although we may be putting the Torah back in the Aron, we continue to cling to it as we face our daily needs and challenges--until the next time that we read from it again.


Additional Note:  In this very special time, perhaps we can consider purchasing some Sefarim (which may include Chumashim and Siddurim) for our Shuls and Batei Midrashim.  In this way, we are helping others to cling on to Torah and Avodah as well!




28 Iyar

RECEIVED FROM AGUDATH ISRAEL OF AMERICA:  “To Distinguished Rabbonim and Leaders of Agudath Israel of America: Please permit me to call your attention to the Kol Korei [Hakhel Note: We provide the text of the Kol Korei by clicking here], issued by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America, calling upon Yidden in their local communities to gather together for special tefilah this Thursday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan (May 9), in light of the threat facing Torah scholars and charedi families under policies being promoted by the new government in Israel.  These policies, if enacted, would plunge large segments of the charedi community into abject poverty, rob charedi schools of their independence from intrusive governmental regulation, and pressure charedim to radically change their religious lifestyle.  This unprecedented campaign against Torah scholars and charedi families is cause for deep concern and dismay.  As you will see below, leading Gedolei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel have designated Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan as a day of special tefilah, and now the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America have added their voices to the call. We respectfully urge you to disseminate the urgent message of these Kol Koreis, and to arrange for special tefilos to be said in your local batei knessios and yeshivos.”


 WHY STAY IN DEBT? Some have the inappropriate custom of waiting until Erev Yom Kippur, Erev Rosh Hashana, or perhaps Elul to begin to recognize his aveiros and take action to cleanse them. As the aveiros accumulate over the year, this becomes an overly daunting task--especially if one does not write them down. In last week’s Parsha (Vayikra 26:40), the Torah reminds us right here and now--even before the summer begins(!)--“Vehisvadu Es Avonam…they will confess their sin.” At any point during the day, if one realizes that he has fallen prey to the Yetzer Hara, what is the good explanation or reason for him not to do Teshuva immediately?. After all, it involves but three basic steps--Charata--truly feeling sorry for what one has done, Vidui--articulating it in words, spelling it out, and Kabbala Ahl HaAsid--undertaking not to do it again. Doing Teshuva now rather than waiting until later can perhaps be analogized to paying in cash--rather than requesting an extension of credit. Why be a ba’al chov when you have the cash?!


 A TIME OF NEED: It is fascinating to note that the Ninth and Tenth Brachos of Shemone Esrei (Boreich Aleinu and Tekah B’shofar) relate to Parnassah and Geulah, respectively. There appears at first glance to be a great contrast between the two requests--one seemingly very much focused on Gashmiyus, and the other putting the gashmiyus aside and pleading for our ruchniyus. Why would the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah put them side by side? We may suggest that just in the case of Parnassah one pleads earnestly with Hashem for his personal needs, so too, must one recognize that it is also his personal time of need to daven for the Geulah each and every day--until Hashem fulfills it!



Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of Shmuel Hanavi. Dovid Hamelech wrote about Shmuel Hanavi as follows “Moshe V’Aharon BeChohanav U’Shmuel B’Korei Shmo (Tehillim 99:6)… Moshe and Aaron are among His leaders, and Shmuel is among those who call out His name—they called out to Hashem and He answered them.” We see from here that Shmuel was contrasted to Moshe and Aaron together--with Shmuel being answered by Hashem in the same manner as Moshe and Aharon! There is a great lesson here. Shmuel Hanavi teaches us how a person can raise himself up to new heights-- and be literally included together with others of great stature in the service of Hashem. What an inspiration this should serve for us all. Think of your Rav, Posek, or Rosh Yeshiva, and truly endeavor to reach his Middah or Madreiga—at least in some way!



Special Note Two:  In one week from today, we will celebrate Matan Torah with Shavuos.  Much in the same way as we get closer and closer to Yom Kippur do we feel a need to do Teshuva, or as we get closer and closer to Pesach do we feel a need to rid ourselves of our Chometz, so too, should we demonstrate our recognition of the advent and approach of Matan Torah.  One should not take lightly the need to ready himself for receiving the Torah.  Indeed, Chazal (Pesikta D’Rav Cahana, Piska 12) teach:


“HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Klal Yisrael--when you read this Parsha [of Ma’amad Har Sinai] to me every year, I will consider it as if you were standing before me on Har Sinai and receiving the Torah.”


So, we must do something: waiting on line in the bakery for cheesecake (and reflecting on how many reasons you know for why we eat cheesecake on Shavuos) or even setting up a Chavrusah for Shavuos night, should not satisfy us.  Just as B’nei Yisroel were conscious that they were traveling directly from Egypt to Har Sinai, and that they required several days of further preparation upon their arrival at Har Sinai, so, too, must we begin to sense the need to draw near and experience and inspire ourselves with Torah anew.


One easy method to accomplish this is simply taking the time out in the week before Shavuos to learn an extra ten to fifteen minutes a day.  If one were told that he was going to be receiving the Crown Jewels as a gift in one week, he would most certainly begin to demonstrate a newfound special love and care, a unique concern and appreciation--and a desire to learn more about them!


A second, more difficult, but likewise more rewarding and lasting, manner of demonstrating awareness of the time period that we are now in, is a point we have touched on in the past--properly fulfilling what Chazal describe as one of our important purposes in life--setting aside time for Torah study (Shabbos 31A).  Indeed, every night in Maariv we recite “Ki Heym Chayeinu--for they are our life”…  Likewise, Shlomo HaMelech (the wisest of all men) writes in Mishlei (3:18) “Eitz Chaim He…”--it is the Tree of Life for those who grab hold of it.  So, just as one may need, on a daily basis, to imbibe oxygen, to take a particular treatment, to ingest a particular medication, in order to remain alive, we, too, must be sure--very sure--that we, too, are dutifully taking our daily dosage of Torah study, as well.  There are several important points made by the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 155) relating to Kevius Itim--designating those special times during the day.  These are the Mishne Berurah’s recommendations:


A.       One should set aside time for Torah Study immediately after davening in the morning and the in the evening so that he is not sidetracked (or hoodwinked) by the Yetzer Hara and his emissaries;


B.      One must be sure that in addition to any daily study of Tanach/Mishna/Gemara, to study books of Halacha.  In fact, if one does not learn several hours a day, it is proper for one’s “Ikar Limud”--primary study--to be in Halacha L’Maaseh, in a way that he will understand and practically apply his studies;


C.       If something happened which prevented him from his regular designated time of study, he should make it up as soon as possible, but the latest before going to sleep.  Even if one cannot study at all, because of some event beyond his control, he should not depart from his place after davening until he has at least learned one Pasuk or one Halacha;


D.      It is recommended that the set time for Torah study, if at all possible, be in a particular, designated place, and that the place should preferably in Shul;


E.       If one learns as part of a group of people, it brings greater Kavod Shamayim (Bi'ur Halacha there); and


F.       The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 238) writes that one should be even more careful with this set time for Torah study at night than by day (see Mishna Berurah there for a detailed explanation).


Let us take the time out to rededicate and reinvigorate ourselves with our Tree of Life, as we properly utilize this wonderful preparatory period for our very own, our very personal, Kabalas HaTorah!




27 Iyar

A GREAT KAL V’CHOMER! Chazal teach that Hashem looks at us doing Chesed towards each other and exclaims:  “Each one of them needs their own Chesed--and yet they perform Chesed on behalf of others. I, who do not need any Chesed--should certainly perform Chesed to them!”  This is Hashem’s Kal V’Chomer.  We must recognize that it is A REALITY that whenever we perform Chesed in this world, Hashem makes His Kal V’Chomer and provides additional Chesed [and it is a Chesed that only Hashem can perform!] on our behalf. Let’s get going--for our human act of Chesed brings incalculable Heavenly Chesed upon all of us as well!



TORAH U’TEFILLAH: We all know that Sefer Tehillim is part of Tanach, and that accordingly, when we study a Chapter of Tehillim, we are studying Torah. It would appear, then, that especially if one recites his Tehillim slowly, with intent on meaning of the words--he is both davening and learning Torah at the same time!



DERECH ERETZ! HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, teaches that in days before Shavuos, we must be careful to demonstrate a high level of Derech Eretz--proper respect and appreciation for others, for after all, Chazal teach: “Im Ein Derech Eretz Ein Torah” (or “Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah”). HaRav Erlanger explains that Torah is the ‘Second Floor’, which will only be reached by first taking the steps from the ‘First Floor’ of Derech Eretz. Respect…Dignity…Appreciation…Actions of Caring…Always Finding Favor in the Eyes of Others….From the ‘First Floor’ we can get to a very lofty and supernal ‘Second Floor’!



CHOVAS HASHEMIRA:  Last week, we brought the Pasuk in Mishlei (5:9 and Rashi there) as well as the words of the Chofetz Chaim which teach that a person should select a Mitzvah in which he is unfaltering, and in which he develops a special constancy, consistency and expertise. We noted that the Chofetz Chaim urged that this Mitzvah be Shemiras HaLashon. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, reminds us that in the Sefer Chovas HaShemira, the Chofetz Chaim teaches that over and above catching oneself from speaking a Lashon Hara statement, one should also accept upon himself (at the outset of the day, for instance) the Chovas HaShemira--the duty to abide by the laws of proper speech. With this prior Kabbala, this prior dedication--the performance of the Mitzvah will not be only on an occurrence-by-occurrence basis, but will based upon an established enthusiasm and devotion to… the Chovas HaShemira!



DO YOU WANT TO BE A CHASSID?  In last week’s Pirkei Avos (5:17), Chazal teach that there are four types of those who go to the Bais HaMidrash…one who goes but does not study has the reward for going; one who studies at home but does not go to the Bais HaMidrash has the reward for accomplishment; and one who goes and studies is a chassid. We clearly see from Chazal’s teaching that while studying in and of itself is a tremendous accomplishment--studying in the Bais HaMidrash is on a different level, is called something else--and in fact renders the person a chassid in Talmud Torah!  When contemplating whether to stay home, learn in a friend’s house or go to Shul or a Yeshiva--let us take Chazal’s teaching very much into consideration! A chassid in Talmud Torah is truly a magnificent accomplishment!




Special Note One:  We are all familiar with the Chazal that teaches: “If the Yetzer Hara attempts to take hold of you, pull him into the Beis HaMidrash” (Kiddushin 30B).  This tactic should not necessarily be viewed as some form of circumvention or defensive maneuver.  Rather, the Maharal (Tiferes Yisroel, Chapter 25) explains, your action is a positive and productive one--for you are drawing your body and Yetzer Hara towards their purpose and mission in life--to be sanctified.


This is why, explains the Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 3, p. 76), that the korban brought on Shavuos, the holiday of Matan Torah, was uniquely made of chometz (representing gashmius), and also the reason that all agree that on Shavuos we are required to celebrate with “Lachem”--we are enjoined to rejoice with food and drink, and are forbidden to fast (Pesachim 68B).  Shavuos, then, is a holiday which requires no other or additional symbols or Mitzvos, for it is the Yom Tov of the person himself--the soul and body united in holiness!


With this realization, we can likewise understand why Shavuos (unlike Pesach and Sukkos) is only one day--for it unites the neshama and the guf, and as such, nothing further is necessary.  We can likewise better understand why Megilas Rus is so essential to Shavuos.  When Elimelech and his family leave Eretz Yisroel (i.e., their ruchniyus) in order to protect their wealth, and in search of their physical needs in a foreign land, they failed in a horrible way.  However, when Naomi and Rus (a scion of Moav royalty) bring their bodies “back to the Beis HaMidrash”--to Eretz Yisrael, to once again subjugate the physical to the spiritual, they are incredibly successful.  Their road back leads to the Malchus of Beis Dovid--and to the ultimate achievement of Moshiach!


We each have the power within us to fulfill our purpose in this world.  Sometimes, it may appear that all fingers point in the direction of Moav.  We must realize that it is to the Torah--its study and performance--that we must constantly turn to in order to be steered in the right direction—not only for the soul’s good, but for the body’s good, as well!



Special Note Two:  Before taking leave of last week’s Parsha of Behar, it is imperative that we review again this year one of the key Mitzvos found in the Parsha (Vayikra 25:17): “VeLo Sonu Ish Es Amiso…--each of you shall not aggrieve his fellow.” Accordingly, we once again present below a listing of statements constituting Ona’as Devarim, as culled from The Power of Words, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita.  It would most certainly pay to review this listing from time-to-time, to keep one’s mind and tongue in check.  Please feel free to share it with your friends and help turn the period between Pesach and Shavuos into a true Chol HaMoed--as the Ramban refers to it!  Careful--don’t say: 


  1.  “How many times do I have to tell you?”

  2. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 1,000 times.”

  3. “I told you so.”

  4. “Didn’t I tell you not to…”

  5. “You forgot again?”

  6. “I think that it runs in your family.”

  7. “You look like I feel.”

  8. “This time you’ve outdone yourself.”

  9. “Who appointed you king?”

  10. “You’re off your rocker.”

  11. “Klutz!”

  12. “You make no sense.”

  13. “Who cares what you think?”

  14. “You don’t match.”

  15. “You’re impossible.”

  16. “You forgot to make supper again?”

  17. “How can you live in this mess?”

  18. “You keep on making the same mistake.”

  19. “Leave me alone!”

  20. “You never…/You… always”

  21. “Can’t you take a joke?”

  22. “I don’t believe you.”

  23. “You blew it!”

  24. “What’s wrong with you?”

  25. “What do you think you are doing?”

  26. “Where are your brains?”

  27. “What a nerd!”

  28. “You really overpaid for this thing.”

  29. “Let me show you the right way to do it.”

  30. “I know that this is hard for someone like you, but…”  


May we suggest that, to battle Ona’as Devarim, one work on appropriate phrases that become part and parcel of his/her every day lexicon.  Here is a small sampling--please feel free to liberally add to the list!


  1. It’s a privilege to know you.

  2. You have a knack for doing the right thing.

  3. I need your advice.

  4. You really bought this at a good price.

  5. Smart!

  6. I’m impressed.

  7. It looks so good on you.

  8. You remind me of your father/mother.

  9. I really appreciate your effort.

  10. You do so many good things.

  11. You are truly the right person to be around.

  12. How do you find time to do all of this?

  13. This is delicious.

  14. Can I give you a bracha?

  15. Can you give me a bracha?

  16. What a wonderful idea.

  17. You probably know the answer to this.

  18. I know you’re someone I can count on.

  19. Beautiful!

  20. My compliments to the chef.

  21. You look like a million dollars.

  22. Your parents did something right.

  23. Some people really have their head on straight.

  24. You did a great job.

  25. What a chesed!

  26. You have amazing taste.

  27. You are so special.

  28. You did this all by yourself?

  29. I know that your word is your bond.

  30. You’re great!


Is our list beyond anyone—anyone?  Let us leave “anyone” aside and focus on you.  The Torah (and your Maker) knows that you can do it…and your life will surely be much enhanced if--no, when--you do!




26 Iyar

NINETEEN WEEKS!  We are now in the second of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In the past two years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha.  This week’s Bracha is Gevuros--a spectacular recollection of different aspects of Hashem’s Gevurah. We provide by clicking here our notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772.  May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer or another similar work), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week. 


 QUESTION OF THE DAY :  The last Pasuk in Parshas Behar teaches (Vayikrah 26:2):  Es Shabbsosai Tishmoru U’Mikdashi Tira’u Ani Hashem.”  This very same Pasuk--even down to the very same trup--is found at the outset of Parshas Kedoshim (19:30), which we leined only two weeks ago.  What is this new, but seemingly identical Pasuk teaching us?



Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 127 and 128:


127.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Achoso--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with his sister (whether from the same father or the same mother, and whether or not the parent was married at the time). If one engages in a forbidden relationship with her, the punishment is kares (if done intentionally) or a korban chatas (if done unintentionally). If she is also the daughter of his father when married to his mother, then he must bring two chataos--as she is both a sister and the daughter of his father’s wife (see Mitzvah 128 below). This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.


128.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Bas Eishes Avis--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with the daughter of his father and his father’s wife, and if he does so, the punishment is kares (if done intentionally) or a korban chatas (if done unintentionally). If the girl is his father’s wife’s daughter from another marriage, he may marry her lechatchila.  This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, Z’tl (the Ramchal).  We recall that the first word of the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim is Yesod--and his Yahrzeit falls out on Yesod SheB’Yesod.  We once again provide below several notes from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleima BeKarov) from his Sefer Matnas Chelko, which contains his notes on the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim:


A.  HaRav Zundel Salanter, Z’tl, asked HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, what Sefer Mussar to study.  HaRav Chaim responded:  “All of the Sifrei Mussar are good to learn, but the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim should be your guide.”  HaRav Mattisyahu explains this to mean that one does not only get aroused by the Mesilas Yesharim, but that one can use this Sefer as a handbook to lead one’s life--in order to attain Ma’alos in Avodas Hashem.  In fact, HaRav Mattisyahu teaches, the Sefer is uniquely appropriate for everyone to find his way in Hashem’s service. 


B.  The G’ra would say that if the Ramchal had lived in his times, he would have traveled 50 mil (100, 000 amos!) to hear Mussar from him.  HaRav Mattisyahu teaches that this is not an exaggeration--and that with all of the hasmada and hakpada on time that the G’ra had--this is what he actually would have done! HaRav Shach, on commenting on the statement of the G’ra, explained that we see from here how important the study of Mussar really is. 


C.  The Mesilas Yesharim is based upon the Braisa of Rebbi Pinchas Ben Ya’ir in which he teaches that Torah leads to Zehirus, Zehirus leads to Zerizus, Zerizus lead to Nekiyus….  There is a Chapter on each one of the Middos mentioned in the Braisa--except for Torah.  HaRav Mattisyahu explains that the Ramchal does not begin with Torah, because Torah is the beginning, the middle and the end--for each madreigah that one attains must be accompanied by Torah in order to grow in Avodas Hashem. 


D.  The Mesilas Yesharim begins with the phrase:  “Yesod HaChassidus--the foundation of Chassidus.  What is Chassidus?  HaRav Mattisyahu teaches that at the root of Chassidus is the teaching of Chazal:  “Ashrei Adam She’amalo BaTorah VeOseh Nachas Ruach LeYotzro--a Chassid is one who toils in Torah and gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem.  Just as true Nachas to a parent is when his child does more than what is otherwise expected--so too, our Nachas to Hashem is to go beyond our ‘technical requirements’, and demonstrate by our deeds our desire to give Him Nachas.  In this regard every person is different-- for every person has his own Olam, his own world in which he relates to Hashem based upon his own facts, his own situations and his own circumstances.  Hakhel Note:  Each person gives his own personal Nachas to Hashem--in his very own way! Additional Note: In his hesped for Rabbi Yosef Rabinowitz, Z’tl, Rabbi Eliyahu Brudny, Shlita, taught that many forget the words of the first Chapter of the Mesilas Yesharim which describes the basic goal of life--and instead focus upon details, and get involved in habits--which do not further the focus on the purpose of life. Accordingly, Rabbi Brudny urged everyone to study (and re-study) Chapter 1 of the Mesilas Yesharim.


E.  Just as a businessman has a plan on how he intends to become wealthy, so too, should one have a ‘plan’ as to how he is going to advance in Ruchniyus.  A person who intends to learn Shas will show greater determination and dedication than someone without this goal.  Likewise, a person with a drive towards the ultimate goal of Ruach HaKodesh (the highest level we can reach before Techiyas HaMeisim), will have a greater success than the person who takes matters as they come along. 


F.  An uninformed person may think:  What purpose is there to this world, in which he has finite years of life, and during which time he may be beset with various and sundry difficulties?  What does he have to thank Hashem for--should a person love a king because he puts him into a beautiful jail?  We know better-- we know that there is a Olam Haba, which is the true and everlasting world.  Based upon this, we can appreciate that Hashem has taken this temporary world and has made it as comfortable for us as He deems and knows to be within our best interests.  Picture one who is traveling to his son’s wedding--and needs to run at full speed in order to catch the train, and then has to stand for hours sandwiched between people on the train--does he not realize that his destination is the great Simcha, which will put everything in its proper perspective?  We thus owe Hakaras HaTov to Hashem for making our ‘ride’ in Olam Hazeh as doable as He can for us--in order to get to the final destination of Eternity!


G.  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, taught HaRav Mattisyahu (HaRav Mattisyahu refers to HaRav Lopian as his Rebbi), that whatever Middos a person has in this world, he will have in the next world.  If, for example, a person is jealous in this world, he will feel jealousy in the next world--to those who are on a higher Madreiga than him.  The Middos that one establishes and develops here are, very literally, the Middos that will be with him forever.  Accordingly, one must undertake all appropriate action to develop Middos Tovos now.  One should not view the concept of ‘remembering the day of death’ as something fearful, but should view it as a Hisorerus to repair and grow while one can.  This can be compared to one who is working in the fields being told by his friend:  “It will soon be dark outside, do whatever you can now.”  Will his response to his friend be: “Don’t tell me that?!” Not at all, for his friend does not want to scare him--but to give him good advice for his betterment and benefit!


H.  Since Torah is the Tavlin (the antidote) for the Yetzer Hara, if one properly studies Torah, why would he ever have to do a Cheshbon HaNefesh?  Should not the study of Torah itself be enough, without one having to spend specific time on Yiras Shomayim and on learning Mussar?  HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, answers that Torah study itself can serve as the exclusive antidote if certain conditions are met--i. e., that one demonstrates his Chashivus HaTorah and Hasmadas HaTorah, and also additionally learns Torah Lishmah.  HaRav Yisroel adds that when Torah study acts as the exclusive antidote to the Yetzer Hara it does so as a Segulah, and for a Segulah to work, it has to be undertaken completely, with all conditions fulfilled.  For instance, if one knows of a Segulah for Parnassah in which one must do something three days in a row, and he only does it two day in a row, it will simply not work.  Since it is difficult for us to fulfill all of these conditions completely, we must also undertake acts of Yiras Shomayim, including Cheshbon HaNefesh and the study of Mussar, in order to fight the Yetzer Hara and reach our full potential.  HaRav Mattisyahu adds that, in fact, if one engages in Cheshbon HaNefesh in order to supplement his Torah studies and fight the Yetzer Hara--then the act of Cheshbon HaNefesh is considered as part of one’s involvement in Torah as well!  He brings a ma’aseh with his Rebbi who once found many Talmidei Chachomim who were studying a piece of leather very intently.  His Rebbi asked them what they were doing--and they responded:  “We are trying to ascertain how to make a Chalitzah shoe out of this leather.”  His Rebbi was enlightened and exclaimed:  “If when studying a piece of leather one can fulfill the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah--so too when we contemplate words of Mussar (such as thinking about the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRei’acha Kamocha), do we also fulfill the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah!”


Special Note Three: As we are only a little more than a week away until Shavuos, we continue to look for practical, meaningful and real ways in which we can improve our Torah study. May we suggest that at the top of one’s list is Tefillah for success in one’s Torah studies. Tefillah can be all-encompassing, and it can be specific. For instance, if one cannot seem to remember or cannot seem to find a Pasuk or a Chazal that he has on his mind, he can daven for it in the same way that he davens for…a lost object. Remember--Atta Chonein L’Adam Da’as--Hashem not only gives us the Torah, but the wherewithal in order to study, remember and apply its teachings!




23 Iyar

HILCHOS BORER TEST!  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 Borough Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. By clicking here we provide a listing of the 100 question Borer bechina. Please review--how well would you do? Rabbi Webster has graciously agreed to provide us with the ‘right’ answers, which we hope to provide weekly in our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series (starting today!).  Hakhel Note:  The Shiur is from 10:00AM until 11:00AM at Agudah of 18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue . Rabbi Webster is currently giving the Shiur on Hilchos Tochein.



ZECHUS OF THE WORLD STANDING! 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 would 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 much more important, service for mankind.  This should be remembered--and acted upon--as often as possible!




Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series, with the first five questions:


1) What is the definition of Borer?


Borer is defined as selecting or sorting an item that is in a mixture.


2) Does the prohibition of Borer apply only if I sort the entire mixture?


No, the prohibition applies even if I select one item from a mixture.


3) Where does the prohibition of Borer apply?


The prohibition applies to both edible and non-edible items.


4) Since the prohibition of borer applies only when there is a mixture, how do you define a “mixture”?


A “mixture” can include:


1) Two different items mixed together e.g. nuts and shells or two different types of food items mixed together.

2) Two items that are attached to each other e.g. fat attached to a piece of meat.

3) A pot of liquid that contains impurities or unwanted items e.g. fly in cup, sediment from a tea.

4) Separating one liquid from another e.g. fat from a soup.

5) Separating a food item from a liquid e.g. pouring off the water from a cholent

6) Non-food items mixed together e.g. mixed cutlery.

7) Items that are piled on top of another e.g. pile of coats.


Due to the fact that the prohibition of Borer is a Biblical prohibition one must be stringent when selecting or sorting etc. items. Items that are not separately discernible to the eye (for instance, they are close together) should be considered as mixed. However, items can also be considered to be mixed even if each item is recognizable.


5) In the above cases we define borer as 2 different items mixed together. Does the prohibition of borer apply also to a mixture of the same type of items, e.g. a bowl of oranges?


No, there is no prohibition because one is not selecting from a mixture of different items.



Special Note Two:  In keeping with our spirit of Talmud Torah enhancement in this now short period of time before Shavuos, we provide the following points and pointers from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (culled from the Sefer Derech Sicha):


1.  The reason that Torah teaches us the actual day that we left Mitzrayim, but does not disclose the day that we received the Torah is because every day that we learn Torah is a Zecher of Matan Torah


2.  When Chazal (Megillah 6B) teach that “Le'ukmei Girsah Siyata Min Shamayah He--for one to remember his studies, he needs help from Hashem”--they mean to emphasize that one should daven to Hashem that he remember his studies. The more one davens-the more success he will have. This is the Segula for one to remember his learning.


3.  The younger one is when he studies, the better he will remember it.  One should accordingly not push off any of his studies even for a day--for the day prior, one is a day younger!


4.  There is a ma’alah to learn from a Sefer that many have learned from.  As Chazal (Brachos 39B) teach--once a Mitzvah has been done with it, let us do more Mitzvos with it.  HaRav Chaim actually showed that he still uses his Mishnah Berurah that he purchased while still in Yeshiva.


5.  When one learns as a zechus for a Refuah Sheleima for someone, he must learn something extra, and he cannot simply learn what he was learning anyways.  The zechus is generated by the fact that more Torah is studied than what would have otherwise been--not that one has ‘given away’ the Torah that was in any event was going to be learned.


6.  For one who fell asleep during a Shiur--if it is the first time he should be awoken, based upon the notion that he would want to be (even if he will feel slightly ashamed).  If it is a more than one time occurrence, the sleep-needy person should be asked what he prefers--and one should follow his instruction.


7.  If one made a neder to learn ten dafim of Gemara, and he said a Daf Yomi Shiur in which there were 9 students, he has not fulfilled his Neder--although he has the zechus that ten dafim were learned through him.


8.  HaRav Chaim reports in the name of his father that one should not put a metal object on a Sefer--for in this sense the Sefer is like a Mizbei’ach, for which the Posuk says:  “Lo Sonif Aleihem Barzel--do not place on them iron!”


9.  Chazal (Sanhedrin 98B) teach that for one to be saved from the Chevlei Moshiach, he should involve himself with Torah and Gemilas Chessed.  This however, only refers to one who cannot otherwise be involved in the study of Torah constantly.   Otherwise, the greatest Chesed is the study of Torah, for one can answer questions of others and teach them.  Indeed, one can write a Sefer and is automatically doing the Chesed of teaching others!


10.  HaRav Chaim reports that his father, the Steipeler, Z’tl, would read the words in Old French in Rashi and explain:  “Since Rashi wrote them, they are Torah!”


Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim (Chovas Hashemira, Chapter 13) ponders the following question: A person takes out insurance on his house, so that if, c’v a fire occurs, he will have enough funds to rebuild his home.  But a house is made only of wood or brick and it is only a safek that it will actually burn down.  A person’s body, on the other hand, which is so holy that it houses the neshama, will certainly be consumed in the end, because all people die. Why does not everyone purchase Techiyas HaMeisim Insurance, in order to insure that his body will come back to life at Techiyas HaMeisim?!  Neither cash nor a broker is needed to purchase this important insurance.  The Chofetz Chaim explains that Techiyas HaMeisim Insurance is the study of Torah. As the Pasuk (Yeshaya 26:19) teaches “Hakitzu V’Ranenu Shochnei Ofor Ki Tal Oros Talecha”--Awaken and sing you who dwell in the dust, for the Dew of Light [of Torah] is Your Dew”--this, Chazal explain, will be what allows our revival at Techiyas HaMeisim (Kesubos 111B).  The Chofetz Chaim goes on to teach that the Light of Torah that will revive a person can actually be a combination of his Torah, the Torah of others that he supports and even the Torah of his children that he sends through Yeshiva. It would seem that just as with insurance, where the larger the face amount of the policy, the larger is the amount that will be collected, so too with Techiyas HaMeisim Insurance, the more Torah to one’s credit, the more…


Additional Note: Now, is there anything that specifically prevents one from arising at Techiyas HaMeisim?  The Chofetz Chaim (ibid.) quoting Chazal (Sotah 5A) states that the sin of ga’avah (arrogance) prevents a person’s earth from moving during Techiyas HaMeisim.  Additionally, lending money with ribbis prevents one from arising (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer 33).  Even if a Heter Iska is used, the Chofetz Chaim writes, one must make sure that it is properly completed in order for it to be valid.  The Chofetz Chaim (Dovor B’ito, Chapter 2) also writes that lack of proper care in matters of kashrus will also cause a person great difficulty at the time of Techiyas HaMeisim. His proof is clear: The chait of Adam HaRishon, which was eating from the Eitz Hadaas, brought death to Adam HaRishon and death to the world, because the consumed sin traveled through the bloodstream and infected his entire body and consequently, the bodies of all future generations. One who consumes ma’acholos asuros in his lifetime, without exercising the proper care, likewise infects his entire body and demonstrates that he has not learned from the chait of Adam Harishon, who was punished with death. How then can such a person awaken from his death at Techiyas HaMeisim?! In fact, the Chofetz Chaim answers that in such a case, one’s body will then require a ‘Tikun Norah’ or, as he also puts it, a “dreadful operation,” to remove the horrible infection in all of the limbs and organs of the body caused by ma’acholos asuros, in order to make him worthy to arise. With this idea, we can understand the words of the Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 11) who writes that forbidden food is poison, and that one should take the same steps to avoid it as one takes precautions to avoid death.  One should never indifferently or naively put the blame on the mashgiach at a hotel catered affair, Shabbos retreat or restaurant--for it is your body, and your Techiyas HaMeisim!  One must be careful to avoid these pitfalls--and insure himself with the light of Torah!



Special Note Three: HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita recently provided a special insight into the Avodah of the Sefira Period based upon the words of the Sefer Avudraham.  The Avudraham brings the words of Yirmiyahu Hanavi ( 5:20 -25) specifically referring to Shavuos: "Shavuos Chukos Kotzir Yishmor Lanu..." --in which Yirmiyahu reproves the people for "having eyes but not seeing' and for "having a heart that turns away" --for failing to say in their hearts let us fear Hashem ...".  What do these words of reproof have to do particularly with Shavuos--what is this Nevua teaching us? 


The Avudraham explains that Hashem actually commanded us to count during the Sefira so that we would feel the 'tza'ar ha'olam'--the pain of the world in desperate need of food and livelihood during these days of judgment and harvest of crops of the field and crops of the tree--and to turn to Hashem in Teshuva with a full heart, and beseech Hashem to have mercy on us, on the earth and on all of creation--"so that the crops will be as they should be, for if there is no kemach there is no Torah."  In short, Rav Salomon explains, the days of Sefira are really like a second Elul--days in which we are to recognize the Awe and Majesty of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, tremble before his awesome might, and straighten out our ways.  These weeks are oh so critical--our gashmius and our ruchniyus depend on their outcome! It is for this reason that Chazal (Megillah 31B) teach that we read the Tochacha of Bechukosai this Shabbos --in advance of Shavuos--just as we read the Tochacha of Parshas Ki Savo in advance of Rosh Hashana--the two are very much related--for we demonstrate that we want to rid ourselves of any vestige of sin and any iota of curse--and instead be successful going forward with our Shavuos and Rosh Hashana.


To this end, the Radvaz explains that we do not make a bracha of She'hechiyanu on Sefiras Ha'omer because it is the pre-requisite Mitzvah to the Ikar Mitzvah of Shavuos.  The analogy is to Sukkos--where although building the Sukkah is a Mitzvah (Chag HaSukkos Ta'aseh Lecha)--we wait to make the She'hechiyanu until we actually dwell in the Sukkah--and then the She'hechiyanu is made on both Mitzvos.  We are now accomplishing the equivalent of building the Sukkah--just like there is no Chag HaSukkos without a Sukkah, we must build ourselves up, make ourselves ready with the pre-requisite Mitzvah of Sefira  for the Ikar Mitzvah---Chag HaShavuos.  The Navi teaches us how--'let us fear Hashem, Who supplies rain...in its proper time, and Who preserves for us the weeks appointed for the harvest!"  We are to prepare with Yiras Shomayim!


We now have less than two weeks to hear the words of Yirmiyahu Hanavi.  In years gone by, we have experienced many Tisha B'Avs in wonderment--how could they not have listened to Yirmiyahu--a Tzaddik, a Kohen, a Navi, who was so exceedingly Moser Nefesh --risking his life time and time again in order to save us from a long and bitter galus, and the Bais Hamikdash from devastation and destruction.  Now, it is our turn to test ourselves--will we listen to his cries, to his heart wrenching pleading, to his prophetic appeal -- and do what we are supposed to do during these essential days before Shavuos?!   We can begin, suggested Rav Salomon, to demonstrate our Yiras Shomayim--our Awe for our Creator--our recognition that He is the One and Only source of our ruchniyus and gashmius-by taking the instruction of the Chofetz Chaim:  At points during the day simply stop what are you doing and think about the Ribono Shel Olam:  Realize that you have to watch yourself because it is Hashem Himself who is watching you. 



Special Note Four:  In the first of this week’s two Parshios, Behar, we find one of the paradigm mitzvos given to us by Hashem in order to affirm and strengthen our Bitachon—trust--the mitzvah of Shemitah.  We are incredibly commanded to let the source of our Parnassah lay fallow and open to all, and are, in turn, promised that we will be (according to the laws of nature, miraculously) sustained and actually will prosper until new crops begin to grow again in the eighth year (Vayikra 25:21).  It is important, very important, for us to realize, however, that the mitzvah of Bitachon is not related only to the Sabbatical Year--or even to the strict requirement that we not work one day a week on Shabbos Kodesh.  Rather, our Bitachon is built-up of even smaller building blocks, tangible to all on a very recurring basis. With this awareness, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’TL, (Sifsei Chaim, Middos V’Avodas Hashem volume I, page 587) writes that we can better understand the words of the Shelah HaKadosh (on the topic “Emes V’Emuna”).  The Shelah teaches that prior to undertaking any act or item of accomplishment such as buying, selling, meeting with someone, etc. one should say “Ani Botayach BaShem--I believe in Hashem,” recognizing that the act and its outcome is totally in Hashem’s hands, and then relate it to the specific action or event in front of you.  This recognition, appreciation, and actual statement, will have the added benefit of forging a greater bond between your infinite Father and you as his son, and will help to eliminate some of the worst human character traits possible--anger at people for what they have done or not done for you; jealousy of others who were successful in doing the same thing when you were not; and haughtiness and pride over your personal ingenuity and craftiness. Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, in letters to his son on Bitachon (Ohr Yisroel, Letters 24-25), additionally advises him to draw upon the words of our Tefilos, and the words of Tehillim, to inspire and develop a full faith and trust that our very being--and our every being--is in Hashem’s great Hands.  For example, we recite in Pesukei D’Zimra, “Ashrei SheKel Yaakov B’Ezro”--Praiseworthy is one whose hope is in Hashem--He is the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the sea and all that is in them, He safeguards truth forever….  In fact, once you take note, you will find that Pesukim relating to Bitachon abound--“Kavei El Hashem…” (Tehillim 27:14); “Einai Tomid El Hashem…” (Tehillim 25:15)….Bitachon is such a crucial aspect of our existence.  We must take the time out to be fluent with a few Pesukim (from our davening or otherwise) relating to Bitachon which should calm us and put the actions and events of our life in Torah perspective, and follow the advice of the Shelah HaKadosh--start by saying the words “Ani Boteyach Ba’Shem” in the everyday and the not-so everyday circumstances and occurrences that we face or that come our way--no--that Hashem brings our way!!


We are handed so many straightforward and simple, daily gifts and opportunities to build and refine our trust in Him daily. Hashem is not looking to find fault with us--instead, He gives us all that we need, at no charge, and many times without any additional effort, to come close.  As HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z'tl, taught -- the young child who is in his mother's lap on the bus ride from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim does not consider himself to be in or near Tel Aviv, Yerushalayim, Lod, Mevasseret, or any of the other cities sighted or seen along the way; the child views himself as only being in his mother's lap--no matter where he is.  We have to start feeling the purity of that child in our daily Tefillos and in our daily experiences.  If we can, we will take the lessons of the Parsha with us this week, and, moreover, we will be taking the 'final' instructions of Chabakuk's teaching--bringing Emunah to life--which in the end will be the 'Yichye---the source of life for us itself!



Special Note Five: 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 Shemitah, 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 Shemitah have been renewed in Eretz Yisroel.  Indeed, the open miracles promised in the Torah in connection with Shemitah observance have been visible to the naked eye in the strictly Shemitah observing community of Komimius.  We must, however, recognize that according to most authorities, the Mitzvos associated with Shemitah 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 Shemitah experience limited to, perhaps, a “Prozbol” (a unique method which allows debts which Shemitah 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 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 Shemitah in the Parsha--it is “Lo Sonu...”--the great prohibition against cheating or deceiving someone else.  Even if Shemitah does not apply today to the same extent as it will when the Geulah comes (speedily and in our day!).  The Mitzvah of Lo Sonu 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 THAT VERY SAME RELATIONSHIP.


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!




22 Iyar

THE GREATEST HISHTADLUS:  Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita in a recent daily Emuna Daily message made the following essential insight into hishtadlus in Parnassah:  "The greatest Hishtadlus one makes in Parnassah is his recital of the bracha of Barech Aleinu three times daily."  Hakhel Note: Hopefully, this greatest hishtadlus is accomplished with kavannah. Everything else that one does at work is hishtadlus in parnassah as well--but we must be sure to separate the ikar from the tafel!




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 125 and 126:


125.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Dodasso--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with his father's brother's wife (his father and his brother being from the same father). If one engages in a forbidden relationship with her during his uncle's lifetime, the punishment for both of them is chenek--for she is an Eishes Ish (Mitzvah 124). If he does so when his uncle is no longer alive, he receives kores (if done intentionally) or brings a chatas (if done unintentionally). This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.


126.  Shelo Legalos Ervas Eishes Achiv--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits a man from engaging in a forbidden relationship with his brother's wife, and if he does so, the punishment for both of them is chenek--for once again she is an Eishes Ish (Mitzvah 124).  If his brother had previously divorced her or had passed away (and this was not a case subject to yibum) he receives kores (if done intentionally) or brings a chatas (if done unintentionally). This Mitzvah applies at all times and in all places.



Special Note Two: May is here! So, what does that have to do with us? The Sefer Ohaiv Yisroel by the Apter Rav (as brought in the Luach Dovor B’Ito) writes that “We recite Pirkei Avos during the days of Sefira to purify ourselves, and to return BeTeshuva Sheleima--and these days are referred to by the nations of the world as ‘May’--for they also recognize that these days are mesugalim for refuah, for healing. The Gematria of ‘May’--Mem and Yud--adds up to 50, for these are the days in which the soul is healed as we move towards Mattan Torah on the 50th day (and in which likewise our bodies can be healed as well).” For those who have asked for a specific Nusach that one can recite not to become ill, we refer you to the Tefillas HaBori by clicking here.  We add that the classic Sefer Seder HaYom (which is the first known source for the text of the Modeh Ani which we recite upon awakening in the morning) writes that “One should recite Asher Yotzar word for word with Kavannah…” as this will greatly assist a person in avoiding the need for doctors and medications." Finally, for the men who are in shul, we remind them that Chazal teach “All who answer ‘Amen Yehei Shemei Rabbah Mevorach’ with Kavannah and strength (with feeling, and not just an expression of words) will have a Gezar Din against him torn up.” This 'segula’ is brought lehalacha by the Mishne Berurah in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 56, Seif Katan 1. We once again refer you to the Kavannas Amen Yehei Shmei Rabbah by clicking on the following links— in English  and in Hebrew provided by Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Shlita.




Special Note Three:  In last week’s Perek (Avos 4:28), we studied the well-known teaching of Rebbi Elazar HaKappar--HaKinah, V’Hata’avah, V’HaKavod Motzi’in Es Ha’Adam Min HaOlam--jealousy, desire and glory-seeking take a person out of the world.  Some point out that the term Motzi’in is a very telling one--as it refers to the present tense--rather than the future.  If a person is jealous of another, if he lets his desires overcome him, and if he seeks glory (rather than modesty), then he is actually ‘taking himself out’ of his current purpose in life during those very moments that he is engaging in this circumspect conduct.  It is not something for which he is 'chayav missa' on later.  Rather--it is the person himself who is literally and truly killing his own time in the present.  It is no small wonder that the Sefer Sparks of Mussar brings from the Chofetz Chaim that he overheard Rebbi Yisroel Salanter repeating this Mishna for an entire night.  After all, what could be worse than a person punishing himself to death?!  Hakhel Note:  At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, pointed out that the word ‘Chayim in Lashon HaKadosh is in plural form, for it demonstrates that we live two lives--one in Olam Hazeh and the other in Olam HaBah.  If we waste time with jealousy, needless desire, and Kavod-seeking in this world--we are wasting our eternal time as well.  On the other hand, if that very same moment was filled with Torah or Gemilas Chassodim--it would likewise translate to an eternal moment in Olam HaBah.  There is an important additional thought--how this teaching relates to others.  When one assists or inspires another to make his moment fruitful, he is assisting that person for ever and ever.  Here is a practical example relating to the study of Torah, which we continue to focus upon (see next Special Note as well) before Shavuos:  If one notices in the Shul or Beis Midrash that there are those studying, but that it is quiet, he should raise his voice in Torah study to uplift and energize those around him to do so as well.  Because his Torah study is more inspired, their Torah study will be more inspired as well--as the sound of Torah spreads through the study hall.  On the other hand, if one begins to sing a song (even if pretty) in the Shul, Beis Midrash, or wherever a group is studying, one will notice that others will begin to sing as well--and everybody’s study is interrupted as a result.  We therefore have great power to infuse not only our lives--the life of Olam Hazeh and Olam Habah with very special moments--but to directly aid in infusing others with their own meaningful and priceless time--carrying through in this world and the next! 



Special Note Four:  In preparation for Matan Torah, one must of course review his Torah study, and determine how he can improve.  One important qualitative way is by identifying the ‘rough edges’ in one’s study and making them a bit softer.  For example, at times one may remember having learned something such as a Halacha or Gemara, and then realize that the detail, and perhaps most importantly, the conclusion has been forgotten.  A significant technique to practice in order to remember more of one’s learning is to go back and look up (even research if necessary) that which one has forgotten at the time that this realization occurs--without delay.  Even if one cannot do it at that moment, he should write it down, and make it a priority over the next several hours or day.  As the learning has become a separate, stand-alone item to which one has dedicated a few special moments, it should now stay with him for a much longer period of time--and the Ameilius and Ahavas HaTorah that he has demonstrated will stay with him forever!




21 Iyar

Special Note One:  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, as quoted in the wonderful work Careful Words, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, brings the following important lessons:


1.  Every Jew should speak favorably about his fellow man, despite the fact that K’lal Yisrael and ‘Reb Yisrael’ have their faults and weaknesses. It is not hard to criticize others and highlight their shortcomings. But that causes deep distress to Hashem. No father wants to hear a bad report about his child, even if it is true. Vice versa, a father is extremely appreciative of a person who can find good things to say about his child. So, too, is Hashem grateful when a person defends his children before Him even if they are lacking in merits. Jews must look for opportunities to praise the accomplishments of their fellowman. Who can estimate the far-reaching effect this advocacy will have in Heaven and the blessings it will bring upon the Jewish people?!


2. A talmid chacham controls his power of speech because, as the Vilna Gaon writes in his Igeres HaGra,  HaPeh Kodesh Kedoshim--the mouth is holy of holies” and, as such, should not be sullied with improper speech. In fact, the Gaon adds that, “Winged creatures (heavenly angels) follow a person around wherever he goes and record every word he speaks.” On the Day of Judgment there will be an entire, unimpeachable stenographic record of all the words each person spoke during his lifetime and he will certify with his own signature that everything is recorded accurately.


3. The Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3 8) writes that our language is called Lashon HaKodesh, the holy tongue, because it does not contain any indecent words or expressions. Even when it must refer to something of a delicate nature, it uses a euphemism (see also Ramban to Shemos 30:13). This refined manner of speech is not limited to the greatest scholars of the nation. It is expected of every member of our people. It is for this reason that a pig is very often referred to as a davar acheir (lit., another thing) and not with its proper name, chazir (see Shabbos 129b). A blind person is not called an iveir, blind, but a sagi nahor, which means full of light (see Yerushalmi Peah 5:5), so as not to denigrate him because of his handicap. There are many other examples of this meticulous care in using a refined manner of speech, even by those who are not scholars. Similarly, the Yiddish language is full of expressions that have become ingrained into the speech patterns of Jews, and avoids the use of words that are immodest or, simply, inappropriate.


4. The sefer, Erech Apayim, by Rabbi Avrohom Yellin, Z’tl, is the classic work on uprooting the harmful trait of anger. Among the many excellent practical suggestions on how to rid oneself of this bad middah is an insight based on the Mishnah (Avos 1:15 ), Say little and do much. Here is one example: A father needs something done in the home and asks his teenage son to take care of it. The boy grunts and mumbles something under his breath, and a half hour later it is still not done. Another example: A mother asks her daughter to run an errand and it gets done only partially. Yet another example: A husband asks his wife to take care of something, and, with her many responsibilities in the home, she forgets all about it. The reaction to all these situations follows a familiar pattern. There is an outburst of anger which quickly escalates into a “shouting match,” or worse. “Why do you always ask me? How come you never ask my brother (sister) to do anything?” Or, “Can’t you see how busy and overworked I am? I can’t take care of everything in one minute!” What can be done to minimize and mitigate these common, daily situations which are the source of explosions of anger and recriminations and often threaten the fragile Shalom Bayis of the home? The solution can be Say little and do much. The parent or the spouse should try to minimize his (or her) requests and give fewer instructions while doing as much as he can himself. The fewer requests one makes of others, the fewer opportunities there are for outbursts of anger. In one of his letters, the Chazon Ish writes that a person should avoid asking favors of others if he knows that they may refuse or grudgingly comply. This often leads to hard feelings if and when they decline to help. One should not say, “I’ll ask him and see what he says. If he says ‘no’ I won’t be upset...” This is not what usually happens and is the cause of much ill-will and resentment. One will spare himself these problems…by saying little and doing much!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, provides a fascinating mashal which sheds an absolutely glowing light on the importance of each day of Sefirah:


If one is told that he has won the $10 million lottery, and that he will receive his check (less 50% taxes, of course), in about 7 weeks, you can imagine how quickly he would wish those seven weeks would pass in order for him to have that $5 million check in his hands.  Oh, how we would wish that those 24-hour days were only 18 hours or less!


However, if one was told that he would be receiving his $5 million lottery proceeds over a 50-day period, in increments of $100,000.00 at the end of each day, how he would look forward to, and appreciate each and every single day--for each and every day is an important building block and integral step towards his $5 million final aggregate end goal.


That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal is clear:  Shavuos does not just come, as a $5 million check, all at once.  We are to arrive there, in paced and steady installments, until our final goal is reached.  Each and every day of Sefirah is to be utilized in some way--with some level or type of accomplishment--in Torah and Mitzvah appreciation, study, performance or teaching.  Most certainly, as we get closer and closer to Shavuos, we should sincerely attempt to successfully gain those daily $100,000.00 installments so that we can be most proud of our Kabolas HaTorah on Shavuos.


Here is a practical suggestion for today, among the many others you can think of:


HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that in the bracha of Ahava Raba which we recite immediately prior to Shema in the morning, which relates significantly to Torah study, we make no mention of Simcha or joy in our Torah study.  Yet, in the parallel Ahavas Olam Tefillah in Maariv, we state “V’Nismach B’Divrei Sorosecha--we will rejoice in the joy of Torah study.”  HaRav Kanievsky explains that in the morning usually prior to having studied that day, one has not yet appreciated the Simcha of studying Torah.  By the Evening Prayers, after having studied something during the day, one has (or should have) already felt the Simchas HaTorah.


Based upon this, may we suggest that while studying or listening to a Torah Shiur, or at some point while reviewing a Torah thought during the day, one take the time to feel the happiness and joy with his ability to study, teach, and hopefully, properly apply, what he has learned--so that when he recites “V’Nismach B’Divrei Sorosecha” that evening, he really means it!


Special Note Three:  We provide below some additional insights in preparation for the joyous and awe-inspiring moment of Kabbalas HaTorah:


A.  The Sefer Pele Yoetz (under the heading “Kesiva”) teaches that a person should take the time to 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!


B.  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 De’ah 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.


C.  The Zohar (Parshas Vayeishev) 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!


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