Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
MAY 2016 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
THE JOY OF TORAH! When
studying, one should feel the sublime joy of the opportunity to study Torah,
as well as the joy of the study itself. One of our readers reported that he
recalls as a young boy in the Bronx how his Rav, a Talmud Chacham from
Europe, always seemed to be dancing as he recited the Birchos HaTorah when
he received an Aliyah. Along with the joy, one should also feel and
appreciate the sweetness of Torah. As we pray every day as part of
our Bracha over the Torah, “V’Haarev Na…”--please, Hashem,
sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouth and in the mouth of Your
people--for this, too, is an essential aspect of growth in Torah.
THE ROAD UPWARDS:
As we move closer to Shavuos, we begin to sense a greater closeness to
climbing the mountain itself. During this special period, the Yetzer Hara
may be at serious work, actually attempting for us to have a yerida,
rather than an aliyah. He has many techniques and trials
available to challenge us with at this time: This may go wrong with
davening, that may go wrong with learning. This may go wrong at work, that
may go wrong at home.... We must especially bolster ourselves, and if there
is, in fact, a yerida, we should try to make sure that it instead
takes us to a further aliyah. Rather than stumbling, or even
despairing from any new, unique or strange pre-Shavuos circumstances or
situations--we should use it to propel us higher up the mountain. As Chazal
teach, Lefum Tza’ara Agra--according to the necessary effort (such as
a steeper mountain) is the fruit born.
In this important regard, Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, provides a great
observation. He explains that Pesach and Sukkos may, at least in theory,
begin on their own simply by closing your doors at home, driving to a hotel,
handing them your credit card, and taking pleasure in the days of Yom Tov.
No, preparation, no sweat in advance--and hopefully enjoying Oneg and
Simchas Yom Tov with family and/or friends! Shavuos, however, is very
different, as its name indicates. There is no Matzah or Seder as there is
inherent in Pesach, nor is there a Sukkah to dwell in or a Lulav and Esrog
to take, as is part and parcel of Chag HaSukkos. Instead, the essence of
the Yom Tov is the ‘Shavuos’--the weeks that precede it--that
lead up in preparation to the Yom Tov. Only after, as the Torah refers to
it, the Sheva Shabbosos Temimos, can we celebrate Shavuos! There are
no particular Mitzvah or Mitzvos associated with this Yom Tov at all,
because the preparation for our Kabbalos HaTorah is the essence of the Yom
Tov--and the climax is in our hands reaching up and out as we reach the
top of the mountain!
We should take the time to reflect upon our preparation and where it will be
going over the next 12 days. What will I begin that is new? What is it
that I will reinforce? How can I make sure that I will enter Shavuos with
the term properly referring to it as Shavuos? Hashem has blessed us
with a mind to use. Let us use it for this most sublime and lofty of
purposes--which literally fulfills our lives, and even more literally
fulfills the world!
HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, likewise explains that Parashas Bamidbar, which
of course counts the individual members of Bnei Yisrael, is always read a
week or two before Shavuos. The Torah is teaching us that each and every
one 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 “Kol Yisrael” teaches us that even if one member of K’lal Yisrael
had been missing, the Torah would not have been given. This did not
happen--all of K’lal Yisrael were there and the Torah was given, so each and
every one of us is a part of it!
ON TALMUD TORAH FROM HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA:
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):
The reason that the 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Chazal (Sanhedrin 98B) teach that for one to be saved from the Chevlei
Moshiach, he should involve himself with Torah and Gemilas Chesed. 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!
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!”
As we have noted in the past, 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…
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 Hada’as, 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!
THE HILCHOS SHABBOS INITIATIVE:
full year has gone by, in which we have been davening for a refuah sheleima
for Chaya Malka bas Bas-sheva. We appreciate all the Tefillos said on her
behalf. We have tremendous gratitude as well for all the Hilchos Shabbos
papers printed each week and read at the Shabbos table, and we continue to
Daven for her full recovery. At this point, we would like to further
increase the amount of people who receive the Halacha page weekly. We are
requesting if possible to forward this email to at least one other contact.
In this way, we will accrue additional z’chusim, and hopefully merit to see
a yeshuah speedily. Thank you so much. May we share besuros tovos.”
Note: For a sample of The Hilchos Shabbos Initiative weekly materials,
please see last week’s issue by the following links:
http://tinyurl.com/hr5bs92 To join the Hilchos Shabbos Initiative,
WHAT HAPPENED TODAY?:
Last week’s Parasha of Behar begins with the monumental teaching of Bitachon
through the observance of Shemittah. The starting step, the first building
block of Bitachon is that nothing happens ‘coincidentally’, ‘by chance’ or
‘by accident.’ In fact, a reader pointed out to us that there is no word in
Lashon HaKodesh which means ‘accident.’ The current word in modern Hebrew
for accident, ‘Te’una’, is found in Tehillim 91:10, and is translated there
as ‘befall’, ‘occur’ or ‘come upon’ (see Metsudos and Malbim there).
Throughout our day, especially in these turbulent times (as Chabakuk
taught--Vetzadik B’Emunaso Yichye’), we must be careful to recognize
and aver that everything, every single thing, is really and truly an act of
Hashem. It would appear than that for one to say that he ‘bumped into’ or
‘happened to meet’ someone, or that ‘by chance’ (in modern Hebrew--’bemikre’)
someone called or said something, or that ‘your timing is great’ or ‘how
could he have said that about me’ --even if not at all meant to derogate
one’s belief is nevertheless inappropriate and contradictory to the Ani
Maamins that we recite daily. Care in our speech means care in our
thoughts--and we are a much, much better person--with a closer
personal relationship to Hashem--because of it!
all know, the Parasha has reminded us of this Mitzvah at this particular
point, and even at this particular juncture in our lives[this is what
Hashgacha all about], because it is something for each and every one of us
to work on in his own particular way. Let us each meet the challenge--and
fulfill this great Mitzvah in a way that brings us a wonderful Nachas Ruach--which
will bring along with it Nachas Ruach to others…and, in a magnificent way,
to our Creator as well!
now in the second week of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh
Hashana. In past 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 the following link our notes to
the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772
http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html . 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.
Hakhel Note: We remind you of the following excerpt from Rav Schwab on
Prayer, and was related by Rav Schwab at a Shiur he gave on Tefillah:
”I heard a story from Rav Yosef Breuer, which he told about his father,
my Rebbe, Rav Shlomo Zalman (Solomon) Breuer. The elder Rav Breuer was a
very good friend of Rav Shimon Sofer, the Rav of Cracow, a brother of the
Ksav Sofer, and a son of the Chasam Sofer. Once when the two friends met,
Rav Shimon Sofer asked Rav Breuer to tell him a short ‘vort’ from his
father-in-law, Rav Shamshon R. Hirsch. Upon which, Rav Breuer told him that
Rav Hirsch would point out that while Adon Olam described the unfathomable
eternity and omnipotence of Hashem, it nevertheless makes a reference to Him
in a very personal way--”VeHu Kaili, He is my G-d.” Each
person in his Tefillah says: ‘I have a personal relationship with
HaKadosh Baruch HU, He is my personal G-d.’ Therefore, whenever a
person says the word “Ado
--i, my Master”, no matter how small he thinks
he is, he is averring that he is in direct contact with Hashem.
This thought is in the introduction to any individual’s Iyun Tefillah,
concentration on Prayer. There is nothing mystical or supernatural about
it. It should be the most natural thing in the world.”
Additional Note One:
When reciting the name of Hashem, which is so often repeated in the first
Bracha of Shemone Esrei, it is very important to have this warm and moving
thought and feeling in mind--and hopefully remember it even as you proceed
and recite Hashem’s name through the rest of Shemone Esrei!
Additional Note Two:
Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Mishlei (28:20) ‘Ish Emunos Rav Brachos--a
trustworthy man will have many blessings. We may also interpret this to
mean that one who makes many Brachos is constantly demonstrating and
re-demonstrating his Emunah in Hashem, and becomes not only an Ish Emunah
but an Ish Emunos. Chazal teach that a Bracha without ‘Shem
U’Malchus’--’Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam’ is not truly a Bracha.
Thus, each time we recite Hashem Elokeinu--My L-rd, Our G-d in
a bracha, we should be careful to recognize the personal relationship
that goes to the essence of our Emunah--each and every time we recite
TIME TO ACT!:
The Chofetz Chaim writes that if Chazal (Yoma 9B) teach that the Beis
Hamikdash was actually destroyed because of Sinas Chinam and Lashon
Hara--that it certainly is enough of a reason to stop the Beis HaMikdash
from being rebuilt as well. If a person would strengthen himself--and urge
others--in the area of Shemiras HaLashon, he would affirmatively demonstrate
that he seeks to increase Kavod Shomayim with the building of the Beis
HaMikdash, and his merit is very great. After all, continues the Chofetz
Chaim, Torah Jewry has a Chezkas Kashrus, and it must be that if they
are violating the laws of Lashon Hara and keeping the Beis HaMikdash from
being built--it must be because they don’t know enough about how to fight
the Yetzer Hara in this regard. If one assists them in any way [by teaching
them important Halachos and techniques to avoid Lashon Hara]--then Zechus
HaRabim Talui Bo!
Hakhel Note One: Incredibly, the son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim, HaRav Zaks,
Z’tl, related that he heard from the Chofetz Chaim that “If one speaks
Lashon Hara, this demonstrates that he is not awaiting and yearning for the
Moshiach--for if he truly was, then how could he speak Lashon Hara--which is
Haikar Hagadol which is preventing the Geulah from taking place?!
Speaking Lashon Hara and yearning for the Geulah utterly contradict each
Hakhel Note Two: The new cycle of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim began on
Shabbos, and will conclude on Erev Rosh Hashana. Participating individually
or with others in its study over the cycle is certainly a great and actual
zechus--for the Geulah!
Each one of us should make it his/her business to take an active role in
this great Zechus HaRabim!
Shavuos is now less than two weeks away. Since it is one of the Shalosh
Regalim, it is a time that we travel to the Bais HaMikdash. It would appear
that it is an extremely auspicious time for us to demonstrate how we desire
to have the Bais HaMikdash back and bring karbanos as soon as possible. A
superb way to demonstrate that desire is by taking the time now to give
something extra, a special gift, now to Tzedaka in order to demonstrate your
desire to bring Karbanos in the Bais HaMikdash! We always recommend
yadeliezer.org--with its stellar reputation in collecting money for Aniyei
A PATH TO WISDOM!
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
PLEASE DON’T PUNISH YOURSELF!
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 Haba. 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
Chasodim--it would likewise translate to an eternal moment in Olam Haba.
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 forever and ever. Here is a practical example
relating to the study of Torah, which we continue to focus upon before
Shavuos: If one notices that in the Shul or Beis Midrash that there are
those studying, but that it is quiet, he should consider raising his voice a
bit 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 may be
more inspired as well--as the sound of Torah spreads through the study
hall. On the other hand, as we have pointed out in the past, 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
Haba with very special moments--but to directly aid in infusing others with
their own meaningful and priceless time--carrying through in this world and
A GREAT MESSAGE!
We saw the following on a recent sign: “Ain Ohd Milevado--Say It, Think
It, Live It!”
COMPLETING THE FIRST OF THE NINETEEN WEEKS:
As we complete our special emphasis on Kavannah in the first bracha of
Shemone Esrei during this first of the Nineteen Weeks prior to Rosh Hashana,
may we add that one use the first bracha, on a going-forward basis, to feel
existentially Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Somid--Hashem before you as you
FROM A READER: “I
heard two other reasons for the practice that even those who recite LaOmer
when counting the Sefira every night, call today Lag BaOmer:
1. The Yahrzeit for the Rema (R’ Moshe Isserless, Z’tl) was Lag BaOmer;
since he said BaOmer as a Nusach Ashkenazi, as a courtesy to his memory we
refer to the day as Lag BaOmer.
2. It is widely said that the Rashbi was a nitzutz of Moshe Rabbeinu.
The gematria of Moshe is 345, which is the same gematria as Lag BaOmer.”
CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
our Zemiros, we recite that one permissible activity on Shabbos is ‘Tinok
LeLamdo Sefer’--to teach a child. Although, one may thus tutor a child
on Shabbos and receive pay ‘BeHavla’ah’ (a Rav should be consulted
with any Shailos), one is not permitted to actually hire a tutor or
teacher on Shabbos--even if it is for the study of Torah or any other
Mitzvah (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 90:5).
our Zemiros we also recite that ‘Hirhurim Mutarim’--one
may think about everyday matters. As we have previously noted, Rashi
(Shemos 20:9) writes that this should preferably not be done, and the Tur
already rules it cannot be done if it will cause distress. There is one
additional point here. It is only permitted to think about mundane matters
when it is not obvious that one is thinking them. Thus, one cannot study
with his eyes advertisements in the newspaper, financial information and
mundane records--for it is evident that, although he is not speaking about
them--he is thinking about them.
one is wearing a cloth bandage on his hand on Shabbos, the Dirshu Mishna
Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 162) writes that one should be careful
about getting it wet--as it may involve issues of libun--cleansing
the item. If one needs to wear a cast or bandage, he should consult with his
Rav or Posek as to how Netilas Yodaim can and should be accomplished--both
during the week--and on Shabbos.
of the most complex Melachos on Shabbos to apply in particular situations is
the Melacha of Lisha, colloquially known as kneading--but really a
much more pervasive halacha which applies to food and non-food items alike
(play-dough has Lisha issues). In The Shabbos Kitchen (Artscroll),
Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, defines Lisha as: “The binding
together of small particles by means of a binding agent to form one mass”.
Causing a loose mixture to become thicker is also Lisha, if this is
done by adding flour or particles to it. On the other hand, if a liquid
causes a solid substance to break apart and disintegrate into a loose
mixture, there is no question of Lisha, as long as the resulting
mixture is not stirred. Thus, it is permitted to soak matzah in soup or
cookies in milk because these solid foods tend to disintegrate when placed
in contact with liquids. (The 39 Melachos by Rabi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, II:
p.540). Next Erev Shabbos, we hope to continue with practical examples of
what could be or become Lisha--and how to avoid them!
this week’s Parasha, Parashas 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 year we are
in--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, daily basis.
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 Botei’ach
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.
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 should 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 Parasha with us
this week, and, moreover, we will be taking the ‘final’ instructions of
Chabakuk’s teaching “Tzaddik B’Emunaso Yichye”--bringing Emunah to
life--which in the end will be the ‘Yichye---the source of life for
PRACTICAL GUIDANCE IN ONA’AS DEVARIM:
Tomorrow, we will review one of the key Mitzvos found in the Parasha (Vayikra
25:17): “VeLo Sonu Ish Es Amiso…--each of you shall not aggrieve his
fellow.” Chazal (Bava Metzia 58B) teach that this Pasuk refers specifically
to causing pain with words—Ona’as Devarim. The Mishna and Gemara (ibid.)
elaborate on the prohibition against Ona’as Devarim and further details are
brought L’Halacha in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 428, which is
dedicated to this topic. 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 definitely
pays 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)--an inspiring and inspired time!
“How many times do I have to tell you?”
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 1,000 times.”
“I told you so.”
“Didn’t I tell you not to…”
“You forgot again?”
“I think that it runs in your family.”
“You look like I feel.”
“This time you’ve outdone yourself.”
“Who appointed you king?”
“You’re off your rocker.”
“You make no sense.”
“Who cares what you think?”
“You don’t match.”
“You forgot to make supper again?”
“How can you live in this mess?”
“You keep on making the same mistake.”
“Leave me alone!”
“You never…/You… always”
“Can’t you take a joke?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You blew it!”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“What do you think you are doing?”
“Where are your brains?”
“What a nerd!”
“You really overpaid for this thing.”
“Let me show you the right way to do it.”
“I know that this is hard for someone like you, but…”
battle Ona’as Devarim, one work on appropriate phrases that become part and
parcel of his/her every day lexicon. Here is a sampling we have provided in
the past--please feel free to liberally add to the list--and supply us with
It’s a privilege to know you.
You have a knack for doing the right thing.
I need your advice.
You really bought this at a good price.
It looks so good on you.
You remind me of your father/mother.
I really appreciate your effort.
You do so many good things.
You are truly the right person to be around.
How do you find time to do all of this?
This is delicious.
Can I give you a bracha?
Can you give me a bracha?
What a wonderful idea.
You probably know the answer to this.
I know you’re someone I can count on.
My compliments to the chef.
You look like a million dollars.
Your parents did something right.
Some people really have their head on straight.
You did a great job.
What a chesed!
You have amazing taste.
You are so special.
You did this all by yourself?
I know that your word is your bond.
above 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 when you do!
MORE SALIENT POINTS ON THE TOPIC:
provide below many points also gleaned from The Power of Words,
which are indeed ‘suitable for framing’—and which certainly should be
reviewed from time to time—and especially when you well know that you are
about to have a challenging encounter. We present the points by number, for
ease of reference.
The Chazon Ish wrote: “Even if what you say will cause someone pain
or discomfort for only a brief moment, it is a violation of this Torah
Be aware of what the consequences of what your words will be. Any
time your words will cause someone pain it constitutes Onoa’as Devarim.
Some people can suffer again and again for years because of insulting
remarks people have made to them.
One of the easiest ways to make enemies is to insult people.
Someone who studies Torah has a greater obligation than others to
avoid all forms of Ona’as Devarim. Failure to do so will cause others to
learn from his negative example, and could even cause people to have
negative feelings about Torah study in general.
Any statement that disparages the appearance of another person is
considered Ona’as Devarim.
It is forbidden to say or do things to scare other people.
The laws of Ona’as Devarim are based in the subjective response of
the person you are talking to. Even if many other people don’t mind a
certain statement, if the person you say it to will be distressed, upset,
angry or offended it is forbidden.
Don’t disparage the Torah thoughts of others. If you want to
disagree, do so in a polite manner.
Don’t insult someone for being different from you in personality,
thought, background, habits, etc.
It is Ona’as Devarim to say things to a person which would imply that
he is not normal.
Needlessly saying things to cause someone worry is Ona’as Devarim.
When you have conflicting interests with someone, master the art of
finding peaceful solutions. Find the basic needs of both parties and try to
find ways that the needs of both parties can be met.
Statements made in a sarcastic tone of voice constitute Ona’as
Devarim, even though the words themselves might sound Kosher.
Asking people personal questions about matters they would prefer not
to discuss causes them discomfort and is Ona’as Devarim.
It is counterproductive to say to someone, “If I told you once, I
told you a thousand times…”
Avoid saying,” You don’t understand,” when you are discussing ideas
If you see that a person is very tired or in an especially irritable
mood, be very careful with what you say to him.
People who are very perceptive and notice all kinds of details about
personality and character of others must be careful to use this gift as a
tool to help--not to hurt-- others.
It is easy for married couples to cause each other much emotional
pain by insulting one another. Even if two people disagree or are
disappointed with each other, they should still speak to each other with
Anger does not give you permission to violate the prohibition against
Humor at someone else’s expense is Ona’as Devarim.
Accepting other people and their differences is one of the keys to
observing this Mitzvah.
When you have internalized the awareness that people are created
BeTzelem Elokim--in the image of Hashem, you will experience great respect
for each person you encounter.
When you communicate with others, be aware of your goal. Most insults
and derogatory comments are counterproductive and will not help you achieve
The more difficult it is to refrain from insulting someone, the
greater the reward.
Whenever you refrain from saying anything that would be Ona’as
Devarim, feel the joy of fulfilling a Mitzvah.
You are what you say. By transgressing the laws of Ona’as Devarim you
are lowering your own spiritual level.
Any time that someone hurts your feelings in some way, view it as a
learning experience to teach yourself to be more sensitive to causing others
distress with words.
Imagine standing before Hashem after 120 years and being confronted
with all of your Ona’as Devarim statements.
“It’s your fault for taking offense.” If someone will feel pain
because of what you say, you have an obligation to avoid saying it and you
cannot blame the other person for feeling hurt.
“I hope that this doesn’t offend you, but…” Starting off with this
statement does not render your Ona’as Devarim permissible.
When you want to influence someone to do something, always try to
motivate him with an approach that will be based on his needs, wants, and
There are many statements that if said with a smile will not cause a
person distress-- even though they might if a person were to say the words
with a serious expression on his face.
There are always ways of disagreeing with someone that show a basic
respect for him even though you disagree with what he said.
The laws of Ona’as Devarim apply even to parents when they speak to
The laws of Ona’as Devarim apply even to small children. Insulting a
young child or frightening him as a joke is forbidden.
If someone is angry it is an act of kindness to calm him down. Be
careful not to say things that would be Ona’as Devarim to someone who is
When you speak to a stranger, you might not be aware of his
particular sensitivities and therefore might cause him pain unintentionally.
Note the facial reactions of the people you speak to.
When you see someone insulting another person, have the courage to
say something to stop him.
Be willing to make a public commitment to your family and friends
that you will be careful with Ona’as Devarim.
AS WE GET CLOSER!
provide below some insights in preparation for the joyous and awe-inspiring
moment of Kabbalas HaTorah:
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!
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.
The Zohar (Parashas 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!
TIMELY INFORMATION ON HAIRCUTS:
is a time to reflect anew upon how even a task such as a haircut has meaning
and purpose in our lives. In the Torah itself, we learn that Yosef took a
haircut upon his release from prison in order to see Paroh--as a sign of
respect. We similarly find that Haman (who was by trade a barber) gave
Mordechai a haircut prior to his ascending onto the king’s horse (Megillah
16A). Thus, a person can have kavana prior to taking a haircut that he is
doing so out of respect for himself and others. There is more, however. We
can also reflect upon the Kavod Shabbos inherent in the haircut--as we too
show respect to the royal Shabbos Queen.
is still more. Of course, ahl pi kabala, hair and its growth
extending outside and away from the body has profound meaning. We would,
however, like to remind men that before taking a haircut they may have
kavana that they are fulfilling two (2) additional mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh--which
are Lo Sakifu Pe’as Roshechem and Lo Sashchis Es Pe’as Zekanecha--not
rounding the hairline and not using a knife-like blade to cut certain areas
of the face. Readers must be on guard that barbers who are not aware of the
Halacha may be using cutting instruments in an improper way in the Payos
area and above the ear. Accordingly, we once again provide an important
link to The Kosher Haircut Guide Poster (available at
http://tinyurl.com/yh2dqy6 ). We urge you to send on the Guide
to as many as possible--it is so unfortunate for one to violate a Torah
prohibition for lack of knowledge--and all the more so when it is so easily
rectified. We have free large, hard-copy laminated posters of the Guide as
well for pick up--for use in Shuls, Yeshivos and barber shops. Please feel
free to contact us. Remember, just as there is much more to a Kosher
hamburger...there is much more to a Kosher Haircut! In everything we
do--our kavana plays the key role--let’s do it the way we are supposed to!
Why is it that when a person gets older, his hair starts turning
white? After all, white symbolizes purity, as evidenced by the white
garments of the Kohein Gadol on Yom Kippur, and the fact that the red string
that was tied on to the entrance to the Heichal on Yom Kippur turned white
to demonstrate that the people’s sins were forgiven (Yoma 6:8). It would
thus seem more appropriate for children, who are so much closer to
purity to have white hair, which then would become darker as one ages, as a
symbol that the person is sullying himself with sin. Why does it move in
the reverse direction? Hakhel Note: This is, of course, a rhetorical
question. If you do not know or appreciate the answer, we suggest as an
immediate undertaking the study of either the Sefer Mesilas
Yeshorim or the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva!
had received the following from a reader:
“A Kavannah before getting a haircut is ‘Beyomo Titein Secharo”--paying
the barber on time.”
ON LAG BAOMER:
1. It appears that even those who recite LaOmer when counting the
Sefira every night, call today Lag BaOmer. A reader suggested that
this is so because the celebration of Lag BaOmer originates from Tzefas
(first found in Peri Eitz Chaim), and the Arizal’s Nusach was BaOmer.
2. The Chasam Sofer (Shailos U’Teshuvos, Yoreh Deah 233) brings the
possibility that Lag BaOmer is observed as a day of simcha because on this
day (18 Iyar) the Mon began to fall. This calculation is based on the fact
that on the 15th of Iyar Bnei Yisrael arrived in Midbar
Sin and the people complained--3 days then transpired before the Mon
began to fall.
annual Lag BaOmer thought: Upon reaching the Lag BaOmer milestone, we are
faced with a perplexing question: What is the nature of the sudden cause
for celebration at this time? After all, from what we know of our past
during the Omer period, 24,000 senior scholars--the students of Rebbi Akiva
passed away for not properly respecting each other; even Rebbi Shimon Bar
Yochai, one of the surviving students, eventually passed away on this day;
later, the Crusades took their great toll on Ashkenazic Jewry during Sefira;
then, the great Posek for Ashkenazim, the Rema passed away on Lag BaOmer,
like Rebbi Shimon; and, most recently, much of Hungarian Jewry was hurriedly
annihilated during the period from Pesach to Shavuos in 1944--to such an
extent that the survivors of Hungarian Jewry who do not know when their
relatives or friends were murdered observe the Second Day of Shavuos as
their Yahrzeit. So, what is the joy--the songs, the bonfires, the bows and
arrows about? Why are weddings allowed, and Tachanun not recited?
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (following the lines of the G’ra’s Commentary on
Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, 493) teaches we celebrate that in all events,
there were those who remained. Indeed, the resemblance in all of the
aforementioned tragedies is striking: Rebbi Shimon passed his legacy to his
students (it is no coincidence that so many other future generations of
Tanaim are buried right around Rebbi Shimon in Meron). Similarly, even
after the Crusader massacres killing Talmidei Chachomim and many others in
many communities, the Ba’alei Tosfos flourished for many generations,
culminating in the Rosh, and his son, the Tur, as the basis for our Shulchan
Aruch; the Rema, rather than being the final word in Halacha for Ashkenazim,
became the basis and guide for the scores of future poskim; the remnants of
Hungarian Jewry fill the Yeshivas from Borough Park to Bnei Brak.
is more than that we are just survivors. It is the fulfillment of the Pasuk
(Devorim 32:23): “Chitzai Achaleh Bom”--I will finish My arrows in
them--which Chazal (Sotah 9A) explain to mean--My arrows will be finished in
them, but they will not be finished. Hashem has guided us through events,
times, places and tragedies of immense proportions, while the other 70
nations of the world disappeared from far less calamitous events. Perhaps
this is the symbol of the bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer--the arrows are done,
but we are not. Why is this so--why has our history--our experience in this
world been so different than all other nations?
suggest that the answer to this, too, brings us to this time of year--it is,
once again, not coincidental that all of this is happening as we prepare to
receive the Torah--for it IS THE TORAH that has made our lives so
different and so endurable. It is the Torah, created well before the world
as we know it was created, that has given us the “supernatural” force for us
to thrive and survive. At this special time of year, we should especially
demonstrate our recognition of the importance of Torah in our lives and in
the lives of K’lal Yisrael.
For the coming two weeks until Shavuos, in whatever you are learning,
whether it is a thought on the Parasha, Daf Yomi, or even a Torah email,
think about how important Torah study is in our lives. It is not academics,
nor a body of knowledge, but the one part of our life that permeates and
invigorates us--and the bonfire that warms and enlightens us every day of
REBBI SHIMON BAR YOCHAI:
As we all know, today is the Yahrzeit of Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The Sefer
Ta’amei Haminhagim U’Mekorei HaDinim presents an entire chapter on
the Hilulah DeRashbi. In a footnote there (page 271), the Sefer
writes that for one to attach to the zechus of Rebbi Shimon, it would be
appropriate for one to study Rebbi Shimon’s teachings. In fact, Rebbi
Shimon (Gittin 67A) told his students: “Banai, Shanu Middosai--my
children, study my teachings!” Accordingly, we provide below just a few of
the thousands of teachings of Rebbi Shimon for us to recall on this day:
1. Rebbi Shimon taught (Avos 3:4): “Shelosha Sheachlu Al Shulchan Echad…--Three
that eat at a table together and do not say Divrei Torah at the table, are
considered to have eaten of offerings to idols; however, when three eat
together and share words of Torah, it is as if they ate from Hashem’s table,
as the Pasuk says: ‘and he said to me, this is the table of Hashem’.”
Hakhel Note: Let us be sure to remember this teaching when at the table with
2. Rebbi Shimon taught (Yerushalmi Brachos 1:2): “Ilu Havina Ka’im Al
Tura DeSinai…--if I was at Matan Torah at the time the Torah was given
to Bnei Yisrael, I would have asked Hashem to create for us two mouths--one
with which to speak in Torah, and one to take care of our other speech
Hakhel Note: Let us recall the Chofetz Chaim’s teaching as to our power of
speech noted above--recognize how very precious our mouths really are--and
help ourselves and others to safeguard the ‘Fort Knox’ that we all possess!
3. Rebbi Shimon taught (Avos 4:17): “Shelosha Kesarim Heim…--There
are three crowns--the crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna, the crown of
kingship, but the crown of a good name surpasses them all.”
Hakhel Note: Rebbi Shimon, from his famous lessons in the Me’arah with his
son Elazar for so many years (Shabbos 33B) and his teachings throughout Shas,
teaches the absolute primacy of Torah in our everyday life. However,
our lives, Rebbi Shimon teaches, must always be further guided by the
Keser Sheim Tov--which is the crown under which all of our Torah rests.
May our study of his life-guiding teachings serve as a zechus for him on his
Yom Hilulah, and may his zechuyos on this special day stand in our
stead and in the stead of all of K’lal Yisrael!
4. Rebbi Shimon taught (Midrash Tanchuma, Parashas Vayechi) that anyone who
helps another member of K’lal Yisrael is considered as if he helped the
Shechina itself--as Devorah criticizes those who did not come to battle in
the fights against Siserah--”Ki Lo Ba’u L’Ezras Hashem--they did not
come to Hashem’s aid” (Shoftim 5:23). Does Hashem need any help? Obviously
not. Devorah is simply teaching us the enormity of the accomplishment of
Hakhel Note: When one performs a Chesed, he should recognize that he is not
only helping another, helping himself and emulating the Shechina--but that
the Shechina K’vyachol personally recognizes it and appreciates it!
How meaningful, how deep, how outstanding, how eternal, an act of Chesed
5. Rebbi Shimon taught (Midrash Tanchuma BeChukosai): At the end of days,
whether we have done Teshuvah or not, the Geulah will in all events come.
Hakhel Note: The Geulah may come at any time, at any moment now--how
important it is for each person to do Teshuvah now--before the Geulah
AN IMPORTANT SEFIRAH GEMATRIA:
The Me’Afar Kumi by
Rabbi Ronen Sharhabani, Shlita, wondrously points out that the Gematria of “Mepenei
Shelo Nahagu Kavod Zeh Lazeh” (661) is equal to the Gematria of
Lashon Hara! Me’Afar Kumi is a weekly D’var Torah on the Parasha in Hebrew,
and may be received weekly by email by sending a request to
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!
This popular phrase asks us to
“count our blessings”. In fact, however, while one can begin to count
his blessings--we affirm each and every week in Nishmas that “Ein Anachnu
Maspikim Lehodos Lecha…--U’levareich Es Shemecha Ahl Achas Meialef
Elef Alfei Alaphim VeRibei Revavos Pe’amim HaTovos…” Simply stated, our
blessings are uncountable! Whenever we have difficultly or pain in one
aspect, we should try and look at the unlimited blessings we have in so many
other areas of our lives. In fact, one can simply think about this phrase
that he recites in Nishmas weekly on a daily basis!
HEGEULAH! We once
again remind our readers to remember the words of the Mesilas Yesharim,
who teaches that the Tefillos of each and every person for the Geulah
make a difference and are important. By the following links we once again
provide the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah
version) and http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq (English
version). Please recite it sincerely--today!
The Navi (Hosheiah 2:22) brings a touching Pasuk: “V’Eirastich Li
BeEmumah VeYada’at Es Hashem…[Hashem says:] I will betroth you to
Me with Emunah, and you will know Hashem.” Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita,
brings a fantastic Malbim on this Pasuk. The Malbim explains that as a
result of the Emunah that we demonstrate in this world, we will be zoche to
‘know Hashem’--He will reveal to us signs and wonders, and will cause the
Shechina to dwell amongst us, so that we will no longer believe in Hashem,
but rather will have a yedi’ah berurah--a tangible knowledge--felt
and understood by our senses--of Hashem. We will no longer have a
Kabbalah, a tradition, regarding Hashem’s existence. Instead, we will have
a personal, clear, and direct awareness of His presence at all times.
Let us daven that we need not wait much longer!
EVEN AN HOUR!
Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, related that he was once in the presence of HaRav
Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, when HaRav Feinstein was reciting the bracha Asher
Yatzar. He noted that HaRav Moshe did recite the words: “Afilu Sha’ah
Achas” at the end of his bracha. Rabbi Weiss questioned him as to why
he did so--was this our Nusach? HaRav Moshe responded that these words
express unequivocal thanks to Hashem for his continued existence by the
virtue of his being able to take care of his needs. Rabbi Weiss asked:
“But don’t the words mean that we would not be able to exist even for an
hour without taking care of needs--when in fact we can?” HaRav Moshe
responded that yes, one could exist--but to him life is Torah--and one could
not learn if he was occupied or distracted by difficulties such as these!
Hakhel Note: Even if it is not our custom to recite these words--let us
appreciate the Afilu Sha’ah Achas inherent in the bracha described in
Remarkably, the Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:15) writes that
the cheit of not performing Gemilas Chesed is worse than stealing as
is demonstrated by the Pasuk (Yecheskel 16:49): “Hinei Zeh Haya Avon
Sedom Achoseich…VeYad Ani V’Evyon Lo Hichzikah”. According to
Yecheskel--Sedom’s sin was not theft--but rather was not helping those in
need. The clear message to us is that just as we daven and learn every day,
we must be sure to perform Chesed every day as well. As we learn in Pirkei
Avos (1:2) Shimon HaTzaddik teaches that the world stands on three things:
Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim. We daven every morning thereby touching
upon Avodah. We then learn for at least a few minutes after davening to
fulfill the words of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 155). After such a
successful beginning to the day--Torah and Avodah, it should behoove us as
well to perform an act of Chesed before one otherwise gets involved
in his regular day-to-day activities. That act of Chesed could simply be a
Kepitel Tehillim for one designated person, a special gift of Tzedaka, a
short conversation with someone who needs Chizuk or taking care of something
for someone else. In order to strengthen our Chesed--in anticipation of the
summer months when there is a tendency in the world-at-large to become more
self-centered, we will be providing a short series from the Sefer Kuntres
Chaim V’Chesed by HaRav Kolodetsky, Shlita, of Bnei Brak.
one has a child in another city who he knows is having some difficulties, he
would certainly want someone in that city to assist his child through his
situation. Hashem is our Father--and His children are here walking, working
and living side-by-side. It gives great Nachas Ruach to Hashem when
He sees you trying to quell the distress of another, and certainly when you
bring him into a more joyful mood!
Hashem did not need to create the world with some in-need and some not
in-need. The world exists in this form in order for Chesed to be
performed--which in turn will arouse Hashem’s Chesed from the
heavens--certainly infinitely greater than the Chesed we provide!
When a person comes over to others in the morning with a hearty “Boker Tov/Good
Morning!” and a smiling face--especially in his own home--he promotes
harmony and happiness among his family and/or among his people, and helps
provide a positive direction to the day for others.
When one makes it a goal to conduct himself pleasantly and happily with his
family, he fulfills a separate Mitzvah of U’MeBesarecha Lo Tisaleim.
Accordingly, Chesed to one’s family takes precedence over all other Chesed.
When a person gives the bracha of “Shalom” to his friend, he is blessing him
with the name of Hashem which is “Shalom” (Gittin 61A, Rashi d’h
V’Sho’alin)--enabling the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah to agree to the
blessing. Additionally, when a person sees somebody engaged in work or in
some other activity--he should give him a bracha of “Titzlach Melachtecha”--or
the like. These words of direction were, in fact, given by Hashem to Moshe
Rabbeinu when he came to Shomayim to receive the Torah! (Shabbos 89A, Rashi
A Final Note: The
Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 19) writes, “Hakodosh Boruch Hu only
loves those who love their fellow Jew, and the more one increases his love
for fellow Jews, the more Hakodush Boruch Hu loves him. [We note the
incredible statement of the Alter of Kelm (Kisvei HaSaba MiKelm page 13)
that with V’ahavta L’reacha Comocha one can be m’kayem thousands of
mitzvos a minute because for every single Jew that one loves, he is m’kayem
a separate Mitzvas Aseh. (Also see Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’Avoda 1:7-8).] Many
have asked, How can I properly fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh of V’ahavta L’reacha
Comocha--How can I love someone else as much as myself? Must I buy another
a pair of shoes whenever I buy one for myself? Rav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl,
provides an incredibly practical guideline: The Mitzva is: Do for others
what you would want them to do for you; and do not do to others what you do
not want them to do to you. This is the formula to apply in all of your
life’s encounters (Lev Eliyahu, Bereishis, page 253). Using this as your
guideline, the following is a list of practical ideas for a person to grow
in the great mitzva of Ahavas Yisrael:
1. Did you say hello to at least one person before they
said hello to you?
2. Did you make someone smile or laugh today? Did you
boost someone’s spirits?
3. Were you truly happy to hear good news about a friend?
Even if you wish that the same good news would happen to you?
4. Did you judge someone favorably today? Did you see
people positively—-or did you sum up their lifestyle, pros and cons, with
one glance of the eye?
5. How often did you find yourself talking about someone
6. Did you actually do any of the following?
a. Visit a sick person
b. Help the needy in some way
c. Invite a guest without family in town for a Shabbos meal
d. Patronize Jewish products and stores
e. Help a single person find a Shidduch
f. Sincerely ask Hashem to bring the Geulah for all of us
(This checklist is based largely on a checklist developed by the wonderful
N’shei Ahavas Chesed of Brooklyn.)
TODAY--THE 16TH OF IYAR:
Today, the 16th of Iyar, is according to many, the first day that Mon began
to fall in the Midbar, after the Matzah brought from Mitzrayim was
completed. Chazal teach that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the first bracha of
Birkas HaMazon in honor of the Mon’s initial falling. Today then would then
appear to be an auspicious day to rededicate ourselves to the principle of
Mon--that all of our sustenance in Min Hashamayim as the Mon indicates--and
certainly a day to review and renew our kavana in the very first bracha of
Birkas HaMazon (after all--do you know of any other brachos that Moshe
Rabbeinu himself composed!).
THE BEGINNINGS OF TESHUVA:
The Sefer Ma’alos HaTorah by Rebbi Avraham (the brother of the G’ra),
Z’tl, writes that the first step in Teshuva should be in one’s study of
Torah. To demonstrate the point, he brings the braysa of Rebbi
Pinchos Ben Yair upon which the entire Sefer Mesilas Yesharim is
based: “Torah Meivi’ah Lidei Zehirus, Zehirus Lidei Zerizus….” The
starting point of all proper conduct is Torah. This concept is echoed in the
bracha of Teshuvah that we recite three times daily in Shemone Esrei--”Hashiveinu
Avinu LeSorasecha…VeHachazireiu Bishuvah Sheleima Lefanecha”--only after
we come closer in Torah can accomplish Teshuvah. Let us further stop for a
moment to recognize the point and time that we are in--only approximately
two and a half weeks away from Shavuos! It so behooves us to bli neder
undertake at least some small improvement in our Torah study--not only for
the sake of Teshuvah (which would be enough in and of itself)--but certainly
in honor of our recognition that the great day of Kabbalas HaTorah is coming
for each and every one of us!
The Kabbalah could be as small as an increase of only “two to three minutes
a day” after davening or before going to bed, listening to a short Torah
phone message, going through a particular Sefer in preparation for Shavuos--and
can be something as great as reviewing a few blatt per day of a Mesechta
recently learned, culminating with a Siyum on Shavuos! One’s personalized
decision must come based upon one’s own time constraints, feelings,
background and surroundings. In light of the recent passing of young,
special individuals, we must demonstrate that we understand our need to
bolster ourselves in Teshuvah…and that Talmud Torah, which is in all
events K’neged Kulam, and the pinnacle of our Shavuos
celebration, is also the seed of the Teshuvah process.
Chazal (Bava Basra 10A) teach
that ‘Kol Ha’Maalim Einav Min Hatzedaka Ke’Ilu Ovaid Avodah Zara--if
someone hides his eyes from giving charity, it is as if he worships
idols(!).’ HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, provides a great and penetrating
insight here. When one turns to Avodah Zara, he believes that the
getchka will help him out of his situation or predicament--but instead
finds that his energies were misdirected and wasted. Thus, rather than the
perceived good that would come out of his effort, it is in fact real ra,
bad, that results. He has no yeshua in hand, and has given of his life in a
wasted effort. So, too, when one avoids a tzedaka collector or collection, a
gabbai, an appeal or a campaign--and it is because he simply can’t give to
anyone and everyone and deplete his resources in this way--he should
understand that while he may think that he is engaged in asset
preservation and cash management, in fact he is not using his money
wisely--in a good way. The rule to follow in charity distribution is “Melach
Mammon--Chosair...if you want to preserve your money, then give
it those in need--for you have then made an everlasting deposit into an
eternal account--never subject to market fluctuations, bankruptcies, debt
collection, theft or other loss. The more you give--the more you
AND SMELL THE ROSES!
Having recently made the Birchas HaIlanos, we B’EH have begun to reap the
benefits of spring. One of them is the greater opportunity to recite Brachos
over the wonderful world of fragrances around us. As in the past at this
time of year, we provide our readers with a ‘shmek’, a brief ‘fragrance’,
from the wonderful Sefer Rei’ach Hasadeh-The Fragrant Field (by Rabbi
Hanoch Slatin, Shlita; Feldheim Publishers, 2003):
1. Appreciating Our Sense of Smell. One of the first times
the Torah refers to the sense of smell is when Yitzchok Avinu appreciates
the fragrance of his son Yaakov: “Look, the fragrance of my son, is like the
fragrance of the field which Hashem blessed.” (Bereishis 27:27) The Midrash
explains that Yitzchok smelled Gan Eden--his sense of smell connected him
with a world in another dimension!
2. The Brachos. There are five possible Brachos over
fragrances. Their sequence, in order of priority, is as follows:
a. Borei shemen arev — only on apharsemon oil
b. Hanosein re’iach tov bapeiros — only for fruits
c. Borei atzei v’samim — for all tree aromas
d. Borei isvei v’samim — for all grass aromas
e. Borei minei v’samim---for all other aromas over
which a bracha is recited
In a sense, Borei minei v’samim is an omnibus bracha similar to
shehakol neheya b’dvaro.
3. Priority in Brachos Recitation. When one picks up a
pleasant-smelling fruit with the intention to both smell it and eat it,
which bracha should come first? There is reason to assume that one should
begin with the fragrance. As the person picks up the fruit, the smell will
reach his nose before he has a chance to eat the fruit, and if he does not
say the bracha on the aroma first, he will be guilty of deriving pleasure
from this world without first saying a bracha. Many authorities follow this
line of reasoning and instruct us to say the bracha on the smell first.
4. Aromatherapy: Alternative medicine is a rapidly
expanding area. Some people use various scents in order to improve their
health. People may smell a fragrance, or add them to massage oils or to
their bath. This practice is called aromatherapy. If a person smells
fragrances with no intention to enjoy their pleasant aroma, only to relieve
himself of some illness, he should not make a bracha. In practice, however,
most people who employ aromatherapy also enjoy its fragrance on its own, and
therefore they should recite the appropriate bracha.
As a matter of caution, one should first ask his Rav or Posek whether it is
permissible to engage in aromatherapy per se, as different forms of
alternative medicine have been linked to aspects of Avoda Zara. It is a
person’s absolute duty to determine that the source of his proposed form of
therapy does not arise from the worshipping of other gods--something so
foreign to individuals in the West that we may not initially consider it.
5. Black Pepper and Ginger: There is a difference of
opinion among the authorities whether black pepper and ginger are to be
considered besamim. Therefore, the rule is that one should not make
a bracha. In order to avoid the transgression of enjoying this world
without making a bracha, one should either refrain from smelling black
pepper and ginger, or make a bracha on another fragrance and intend to
include the pepper or ginger, as well.
6. Bread: A similar question exists regarding picking up
(or bending over) and smelling a fresh, warm loaf of bread. There are
authorities who maintain that bread is neither a pleasant-smelling fruit nor
a bosem, and no bracha should be said on its smell. Others rule that a
bracha should be said on the smell of bread. Even according to this view,
there is a difference of opinion as to which bracha should be said. Some
say that the bracha hanosein rei’ach tov bapeiros is applicable,
others insist that only the bracha borei minei v’samim applies,
whereas still others require the recital of a special bracha hanosein
rei’ach tov b’pas--Who puts a pleasant smell in bread. Again, since a
bracha may or may not be required, one should not say a bracha and should
refrain from picking up(or bending over) warm bread to smell it. This
refers only to warm bread; the smell of cold bread is not strong and
pleasurable enough to require a bracha. Also, unless the bread is picked up
or set aside for the purpose of smelling it, no bracha is required, even on
fresh, warm bread. (Like any aromatic fruit, no bracha is said unless one
takes the fruit with intention to enjoy its smell.)
7. Weak Appreciation: One who by nature has a weak sense of smell, or
whose sense of smell has been temporarily weakened due to a cold and the
like, should not recite a bracha on a scent which he does not sense keenly.
The same applies to one with a healthy sense of smell who does not enjoy a
particular aroma. He does not say a bracha on that particular smell, even
if most people do derive pleasure from it.
8. Weak Aromas: Some flowers and fruits may have a very
weak smell. A person may find that one orange does not have a noticeable
fragrance, but that a bowlful of oranges does. Unless there is an
appreciable fragrance coming from the item in question, do not make a bracha.
9. Testing a Fragrance: If one is in doubt as to how
strong a smell a fragrance has, or whether or not the smell is pleasant, or
whether or not his sense of smell is keen enough to be able to smell the
fragrance properly, he may first smell it without a bracha as a trial. If
he finds the smell sufficiently strong and enjoyable, he should say the
bracha and smell it a second time.
10. Shabbos: On Shabbos one of the forbidden activities is to
harvest produce. We are afraid that if one were to smell a fragrant fruit
on a tree, he might want to eat that fruit and accidentally come to pick
it. Chazal therefore forbade one from smelling fruit on a tree on Shabbos.
There is no such concern about smelling a flower, as full enjoyment is
derived from the flower without needing to pick it. Therefore, one may
smell growing flowers on Shabbos. One must still be very careful to handle
the plant gently. If the plant is as soft as grass there is essentially no
possibility of breaking it, so one may touch it. If the branch of a tree is
somewhat brittle, one should refrain from holding it.
11. In Havdala, one may use only those fragrances that normally
require a bracha. Hand soaps or bathroom deodorants never require a bracha,
so they may not be used. Many have the custom to use Hadassim (myrtle
leaves) which were already used to fulfill the mitzvah of Lulav. This is in
keeping with the principle that an object used for one mitzvah is preferred
over other objects to perform yet another mitzvah. Myrtle branches usually
require the bracha of borei atzei v’samim. For Ashkenazim the text
of Havdalah always uses the bracha of borei minei v’samim.
Therefore, it is advisable to also include some fragrance which normally
requires a borei minei v’samim, such as cloves. This is not true for
Sephardim, as their custom at Havdala is to say whichever bracha is correct
for the particular fragrance being used. Since myrtle leaves dry out and
lose their scent with time, one should be careful to replenish the spice box
12. True Appreciation. The author of the Sefer Yesod
V’Shoresh Ha’Avodah, in his Last Will, urged his children to acknowledge
Hashem in their thoughts before partaking of any pleasure of the world, even
with such pleasures as snuff, which requires no bracha. Ideally, any
benefit we derive from the world should be accompanied by some form of
praise and gratitude to the One Who created so many varied pleasures for
us. Therefore, even when we are not permitted to make a formal bracha, our
thoughts should be directed toward Hashem.
hope you once again enjoyed this timely whiff from the Sefer Rei’ach
IMPORTANT BRACHOS ALERT!
We contacted the OU
regarding the bracha to be recited on a Pita Chip product bearing the OU
symbol. The OU’s position is as follows: “Pita Chips are Hamotzi. They are
regular pitas that are seasoned and then baked again into chips.”
We are now in the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana! In the past,
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
Birkas Avos--a Bracha whose Kavannah is especially significant every day of
the year, for it is the anchor from which the remaining brachos of Shemone
Esrei continue. We accordingly once again provide by the following link 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, Praying With Meaning (the recent work by Rabbi
Heshy Kleinman, Shlita) or another similar work, or by utilizing the link
provided on a daily basis throughout the week.
MOMENT WITH RABBI AVIGDOR MILLER, Z’TL:
QUESTION: Isn’t it good enough just to be a good person? Why must we follow
ANSWER: And the answer is, why must you keep traffic laws? Isn’t it good
enough to be a good person? How many good people go through red lights?
How many good people have killed innocent persons by driving drunk? Good
intentions are not enough to be a good person. A man must be bound by a
code. And if he is choosing a code, he might as well take the very best
code there is. There is no such thing as a good person without Torah. A
good person can be a mercy killer, he kills his old mother because he cannot
see her suffer. A good person can be a selfish man, who thinks he is doing
good, when in reality he is only helping himself, because he is blinded by
his own desires.
have to know that nobody is able to live with standards that he himself
creates. You see 50 years ago the reformers, the reform Jews, had certain
standards that they considered good, moral, and today they are changed
entirely. So whatever people consider as standards in one generation can
change in another generation. It’s only those who live by the eternal
standard of Torah, who remain good forever and ever.
above is an example of a weekly email entitled ‘A Moment with Rabbi Avigdor
Miller, Z’tl, is available free of charge. The email provides a Question
and Answer transcribed from one of Rabbi Miller’s legendary Thursday Night
Shiurim. To subscribe, please contact
PREPARING FOR MOSHIACH:
Chofetz Chaim (Zachor L’Miriam, Chapter 18) poses the following stark
question: How can we prepare ourselves for the Moshiach to come? The Chofetz
Chaim answers this question in just as straightforward a manner: “Hashem is
not expecting from us things that we cannot achieve--rather, He is expecting
from each person only that which he is capable of. If one can learn
Mishnayos--then he must set aside time every day to do so; if he can study
Midrash--then he can set aside the time to study Midrash. If he is further
capable and can study Gemara or Halacha--then that is what he must do.
Hashem is not looking to find fault with us. He is simply looking for each
of us to do what we can. This, the Chofetz Chaim continues, is what Shlomo
HaMelech (the wisest of all men) is instructing us (Koheles 9:10): “Kol
Asher Timtza Yadecha La’asos Bechochacha Asei--do what is within your
power”. The Chofetz Chaim then makes one additional point which is
applicable to all: Hashem took the Shechina away from both the first Beis
HaMikdash and the Second Beis HaMikdash, and we are now left with the
Mikdash Me’at of our Shuls and Batei Midrashim. If we make special effort
and take special care to show them the proper respect--recognizing their
inherent Kedusha, then we are affirmatively demonstrating to Hashem that we
want the especial Kedusha of the Great Beis HaMikdash to return to
STRENGTHEN YOUR EMUNAH!
A reader once provided us with the following remarkable story which he had
read: “HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Z’tl, had to have a particular surgery. He
inquired as to a top surgeon in the field, met with him, and then scheduled
the surgery for about a month later when the surgeon had a free slot. The
time came, and Rav Gifter was at last being taken into surgery. Rav Gifter
asked the doctor to pray that the surgery would go well. “Rabbi”, the
doctor responded, “you have nothing to worry about--I am top in my field!”
Upon hearing these words, Rabbi Gifter advised that he would no longer be
going through with the surgery at that time. Instead, he found another
doctor, perhaps not as famous, but who realized that health and sickness,
life and all that is to it--is in G-d’s anthropomorphic hands, and not in
those of a skilled mortal.” Hakhel Note: All would do well to remember
this story--but not only when visiting a doctor. May we suggest that the
next time you recite Shemone Esrei, you move through the Brachos of bakasha--from
bracha to bracha--noting all of the action verbs that we
recite--asking Hashem several times in each bracha for this act and that
act--for it is truly only from Hashem that each and every thing that
affects, impacts and improves our daily lives comes! Every time we
daven, we should recognize and grow from the strong Emunah in Hashem we are
asserting, as we plead for his active guidance, direction and action. All
we have to do is read, say, understand and feel the plain and powerful
meaning of our daily Tefillos!
MATZAH TO MON:
According to the Luach Dovor B’Ito, today is the transition day
between Bnei Yisrael finishing Matzah they had brought along from Mitzraim,
and tomorrow, 16 Iyar, is the day that the Mon began to fall (see, however,
Rashi to Shemos 16:33, in which Rashi appears to write that the Mon began to
fall today), it is in these days that Moshe Rabbeinu composed the first
bracha of Birchas HaMazon, the Bracha of Hazon Es HaOlam. The
Luach therefore urges that this Bracha be recited with a special
Kavannah at this time.
Note: At a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, once made the following
incredible point. How could it be that millions of people actually finished
the Matzah that they had brought with them from Mitzrayim on the exact same
day? After all, did not some families have more, some have less? Were not
some families larger, and some families smaller? Did not some families have
mostly adults, and others mostly small children?
Belsky answered with a remarkable teaching. In fact, there were families
that had finished their Matzah days ago, and others that had finished it
even weeks ago. However, those with Matzah remaining shared it willingly
and even happily with their neighbors. Only when all of this shared Matzah
was completely consumed, was there a need for the Mon. In fact, perhaps the
Mon came only because Hashem recognized and acknowledged the chesed of His
people, and “shared” with us effusively from His special bounty as well.
Let us take this lesson and enthusiastically apply it by trying to help
someone else today with their Parnassah or their needs. After all, in the
end…it is all Mon!
us add an additional realm to the lesson of the Chofetz Chaim presented
earlier. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that, although every individual must be
careful with all of the Mitzvos, one should nevertheless be very adept at
one particular Mitzvah and observe it with great strength and constancy,
being close with it his whole life--just as one holds onto a tree for life.
He specifically suggests that one choose a Mitzvah that seems to be less on
a person’s mind than other Mitzvos. Indeed, in the Sefer Shemiras
HaLashon, he suggests that this Mitzvah be guarding one’s tongue from
Lashon Hara. In the Sefer Mesilas HaMaharsha on the Chameish Megillos,
by Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg, Shlita, Rabbi Ginsburg brings an important source
(Koheles 5:9) for the concept of a person choosing a Mitzvah and
‘specializing’ in it: “Ohev Kesef Lo Yisbah Kesef U’mi Ohev BeHamon Lo
Tevuah Gam Zeh Havel--a lover of money will never be satisfied with the
money he has; a lover of abundance has no wheat--this too is futility!”
Rashi (ibid.) explains that it is not sufficient for a person to simply do
“many Mitzvos”--rather, one needs to have a Mitzvah Mesuyemes V’Nikeres.
Rashi there gives examples of this, which include helping to build a Shul or
having a beautiful Sefer Torah written. The Sifsei Chachomim (ibid.) adds
that this very lesson is taught in the Torah itself by the actions of Moshe
Rabbeinu, as the Pasuk (Devarim 4:31) states: “Az Yavdil Moshe Shalosh
Arim”--where Moshe forever designated three Arei Miklat, even though
they would not be used in his lifetime. HaRav Ginsburg notes that this does
not mean that one necessarily has to choose a Mitzvah which would physically
last for future generations, but rather the emphasis is on a Mitzvah that
one is Medakdeik LeKayeim Kol Yimei Chayav--especially careful in the
performance of all of his life. Rabbi Ginsburg reports that it was said of
Rebbi Akiva Eiger, Z’tl, that he was medakdeik all of his life to
fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.
Note: In the secular world around us, we find specialized expertise in a
great many professions and jobs. It may be safely said that the world is
more highly specialized today than it ever was. The physical world around us
is a place for us to derive lessons for our Ruchniyus. Accordingly,
if the world today is more specialized in terms of our daily, material,
physical and mundane needs--then all the more so should we, in addition to
our steadfast general Mitzvah performance, bli neder take upon
ourselves a particular Mitzvah with which we can fulfill the words of the
Pesukim “Az Yavdil Moshe…” and “…Ohev BeHamon Lo Tevuah….”
One’s selection process may require some thought, and one should consider
both the Mitzvos that he seems predisposed to and those that seem more
difficult for him to perform--and make an important personal determination
in this regard. Hakhel Note: We may add that the concept of developing a
personal expertise applies in the area of Talmud Torah as well. The Chofetz
Chaim and others bring that one should have his ‘Olam Haba Mesechta”, which
he reviews and knows better than all other Mesechtos, which will certainly
elevate him to higher and higher levels of Olam Haba. The practice of
personalizing a particular Mesechta was even adopted by the Gedolim. We
believe that it is said that the Chasam Sofer’s Mesechta was Mesechta Bei’ah.
Indeed, it is reported that more recently, HaRav Chaim Stein, Z’tl, had a
Mesechta for Bekiyus (Zevachim) and a Mesechta for Iyun (Chulin).
has lovingly given us a charge--become an expert in your Ruchniyus--you
can do it! Let us live up to the task with sincerity, dedication and zeal!
FROM A READER:
“Question: Where in this week’s Parasha can I find a Pasuk that has the same
two letter word mentioned six times?! Answer: Parashas Emor, Perek 21,
These are days in which we especially work on our Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. In
this regard, we provide two very fundamental--and extremely
Chofetz Chaim writes that the way we can properly honor others is by finding
something greater in them than in yourself--whatever it may be. Once one
recognizes that he holds another in higher regard for something, he will
simply treat him with more dignity and respect.
HaRav Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, adds that prior to engaging in an act of
Chesed--we should endeavor to think about the fact that in doing so we are
emulating the ways of Hashem--Who is a Rav Chesed. By doing so, we
demonstrate that our Chesed is not a ‘good thing to do’ or a ‘social
norm’--but an act which constitutes both V’Halachta B’Derachav--and
Olam Chesed Yiboneh.
CONTINUE OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
every Erev Shabbos after Chatzos, HaRav Chaim Pilagi, Z’tl, would
daven to Hashem that nothing would happen this Shabbos that would require
c’v’ the Shabbos to be violated, such as a choleh mesukan, a fire, or
Parasha this week, we note that Shabbos is placed first--ahead of a
description of all of the Moadim. We should be inspired this Shabbos to
realize that although Shabbos comes every week--it is a truly a primary
Mo’ed--an especially designated time to come closer to our Creator and
raise ourselves up spiritually. Perhaps in honor of the primacy of Shabbos--one
can start this week with extra Zemiros, an extra D’var Torah, an extra act
LeKavod Shabbos Kodesh!
Chazal (Meilah 17A) provide an incredible incident in which Rebbi Reuven Ben
Istrubeli dressed as a Roman in order to induce the Roman political to
annual their evil decrees against the Jewish people. One such decree was
that the Jews could no longer observe Shabbos. He argued to them
(ostensibly as a gentile)--”If a person had an enemy, does he want to make
him rich or poor?” “Poor, of course”, they responded. “If that is the
case, let them observe Shabbos so that they will not do work and they will
become poor.” He said. The politicians responded “You are right.”, and
they annulled the decree. Later, they learned he was a Jew and they
reinstated the Gezeirah. This Ma’aseh serves to reinforce to us the stark
contrast between our level of Emunah which our observance of Shabbos
highlights and brings out--and the non-Jews attitude which is that not
working will simply make us poor (although they actually believed that to be
the case, they only reinstated the decree because of their anti-Semitism).
Our calm observance of Shabbos, without thinking about the work week, the
money that has to be made and the tasks that have to be done, is a bastion
of our Emunah. One of the reasons given as to why we put our ten fingers on
bread or Challah before making a bracha over it is that this represents the
ten words of ‘Veyiten Lecha’--that our Parnassah is from Hashem--and
not the result of our own genius or toil. It is no coincidence that we take
this great lesson of Shabbos with us immediately into the week by reciting
the Pesukim of ‘Veyiten Lecha…it all depends on Hashem’s bracha’--as
we begin the new week!
D. The Mishnah in this week’s Perek (Avos 3:2) teaches that one who studies
Torah even by himself is aptly rewarded, as the Pasuk (Eicha 3:28) states:
“Yeishev Badad VeYidom Ki Natal Alav--even if one learns in solitude,
he will receive a reward.” The Bartenura explains that these words are much
more powerful than we might otherwise think. The term ‘Ki Natal Alav’
teaches that even for one sitting and studying in solitude: “K’ilu
Nesinas Kol HaTorah Kula Haysah Ba’avuro Bilvad--Hashem considers it
as if the entire giving of the Torah was for him, and him alone! We
see, then, how precious even one moment of Torah is to even the solitary
Torah student, and we should be careful with every such moment--for
ourselves, and for all others--all the more so when one spends those extra
minutes to learn on Shabbos Kodesh!
In this week’s Parasha, Emor, we find the distinctive Mitzvah of
“Vekidashto”…and you shall sanctify the Kohen by treating him with a higher
level of dignity and respect (Vayikra 21:8). We provide our readers with
our yearly review of this sometimes forgotten Mitzvah which needs our chizuk.
The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 269) writes that this Mitzvah D’Oraysa
applies at all times (not only when the Bais HaMikdash is standing), and
furthermore that the Mitzvah applies equally to both men and women. The
Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 128:72) writes that there are opinions to be
lenient in the Mitzvas Aseh of VeKidashto today because our Kohanim may not
have clear “yichussei Kehuna” (evidence of lineage), but rejects this
opinion with the strong words “VeCholila Lomar Kain U’Lehatil Dofi
BeKedushas Kohanim--Heaven Forbid to say this and to cast aspersions on
the holiness of our Kohanim!” Accordingly, we provide below some important
points relating to this Mitzvah, which apply in our everyday life:
1. The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 228) writes that it is “Assur
LeHishtamesh BeKohen”--it is forbidden to use a Kohen to perform tasks and
services on one’s behalf, even in our days, and if one does so it is like
being “Moel beHekdesh”--it is as if one is violating something that is holy.
2. The Poskim discuss whether the Mitzvah upon us of Vekidashto applies
to Kohanim who are ba’alei moom (possess blemishes which would render them
unfit to serve in the Bais HaMikdash), or to Kohanim who are still under the
age of Bar Mitzvah, since both of whom could, in fact, eat Kodshim (the
Karbonos in the Bais HaMikdash), even though they cannot actually serve.
The Piskei Teshuvos (I:128:94) writes that, because it is a Machlokes among
the Poskim and it is a Sofek D’Oraysa, we should be machmir, and treat both
a Kohen who is physically disqualified from serving because of a moom, and a
Kohen under Bar Mitzvah, with the dignity and respect of Vekidashto, where
it is possible.
3. Examples of Vekidashto in specific positive areas include having the
Kohen go first--not only in Aliyos to the Torah, but also in making Kiddush
for everyone, making the HaMotzi for everyone, leading the Bentching, being
Motzi the Rabim with a Mitzvah, speaking first at any gathering, being the
Shaliach Tzibbur and in taking first portions at a seudah. See Shulchan
Aruch Orach Chayim 167:14 and the Mishne Berurah and commentaries there for
further detail if a Talmid Chacham is present. One should consult with his
Rav or Posek if in doubt as to any particular circumstances.
4. The Poskim discuss whether a Kohen has the right to waive Vekidashto
as to himself. The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 128, seif
katan 175) rules that a Kohen does have the right to waive your Vekidashto
of him and perform tasks or services for you, but lechatchila only if he
benefits from it by payment or in some other way. In no event, however,
writes the Mishne Berurah (ibid.) may one have a Kohen perform “sheirus
bezuyos--embarrassing or demeaning tasks on one’s behalf”.
5. May one Kohen perform tasks for another Kohen? The Bi’ur Halacha
d’h’Assur writes that “Efsher SheMuttar--perhaps it is permissible”, and the
Aruch HaShulchan writes that it is “Tzarich Iyun LeDina”--unclear, requiring
further investigation. Interestingly, however, family members who are not
Kohanim, and spouses of Kohanim (!), would still have the Mitzvah of
Vekidashto apply to them.
6. The Sefer Chofetz Chaim (Aseh 9) writes that if one speaks Lashon
Hora against a Kohen who is in front of him, thereby offending him, he has
violated the Mitzvas Aseh of Vekidashto.
7. If a Kohen is married to someone that is forbidden to him according
to Halacha, or is metamei lemeisim, defiles himself with tumah, the mitzvah
of Vekidashto does not apply. However, if the Kohen is a ba’al aveira in
other areas, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether the heightened
respect for his status as a Kohen would still apply. See Piskei Teshuvos
8. The Chinuch writes that the reason for this special Mitzvah is to
give honor to Hashem who chose the Kohanim to serve Him in very special
ways…”for when one honors the King’s officers, he honors the King.”
Accordingly, the Chinuch continues, whenever we honor the Kohanim, we should
have in mind that we are honoring Hashem. In this zechus, the Chinuch
concludes, Hashem will bring His brachos and goodness upon us, as He so much
wants to do.
9. Two Related Notes:
a. The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 201, seif katan
13) writes that one should give preference to a Levi over a Yisrael of equal
stature in respect of Bircas HaMotzi, Bentching and Tzedaka.
b. An important point relating to Bircas Hakohanim--the Bi’ur Halacha
(at the outset of Orach Chayim 128) brings the ruling of the Sefer Chareidim,
when a Yisrael stands in front of the Kohanim with the Kavannah of receiving
their bracha as Hashem commanded, the Yisrael himself has a part in the
Mitzvas Aseh of Bircas Kohanim!
CONTEMPORARY HARVEST REAPING:
In the Parasha (23:22), we find that a seemingly unrelated Pasuk of giving
to the poor is suddenly placed among the Pesukim describing our Moadim, “U’vekutzrechem
Es K’tzir Artzechem…when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall
not remove completely the corners of your field; as you reap and you shall
not gather the gleanings of your harvest, for the poor and the ger
shall you leave them, I am Hashem…” (Vayikra 23:22). Chazal cited by Rashi
(ibid.) teach that this Pasuk, juxtaposed among the Pesukim describing the
Moadim, teaches us that anyone who gives charity properly is considered as
if the Bais HaMikdash was built in his time, and he offered Karbanos
there--as so much of the Moadim relate to the Bais HaMikdash, our coming
there and offering of sacrifices. When we give tzedakah properly--it can be
viewed as a step into the Bais HaMikdash!
IMAGINE! We provide a dramatic but
practical teaching of the Rabbeinu Bachya, derived from the Parasha of the
mekalel in this week’s Parasha. Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the mekalel did
not simply brazenly utter Hashem’s name with r’l a curse connected to
it--he slowly and surely expressed the Name--with aforethought and intent.
If this one time act, teaches Rabbeinu Bachya, was able to shorten, to snuff
out, the mekalel’s life by sekila being meted out against him, then
IMAGINE, just IMAGINE the arichus yomim, the bracha, that a life-long
dedication to reciting Hashem’s name slowly and surely when reciting a
bracha will bring to each and every one of us. Such is r’l the power
of a kelala for the wrongdoer--and such is the power of a bracha
for us--as the zerah beirach Hashem--to learn and apply. Remember: Not
fast and gobbled, or even mediocre and unthinking --but Slow and Sure. The
difference is, literally, life itself!
EVEN MORE THAN THE PETALS: Many in the
Northern Hemisphere have recently witnessed the pretty blooming of trees
with stunning pink, purple and white petals. However, these beautiful works
of Hashem then fall off of the tree within days of their formation. This may
seem disappointing and discouraging. After such a long winter--why does the
pretty blossom--with all of its beautiful colors--last for such a short
period? Should we not celebrate the rebirth of nature for a longer time than
that? HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, provides an essential insight. In
thinking about it a bit more--we must realize that the essence of a fruit
tree is really its fruit, and the essence of a non-bearing fruit tree is its
leaves, and the shade, the cool wind, the photosynthetic process that they
provide. The blossoming of the tree can in a sense be compared to the rocket
which launches a spaceship, and then must separate and fall back into the
atmosphere. The rocket is very important--but the essence is the spaceship
itself. In life, we must realize that which is ikar, that which is
vital--and that which is tafel. In our own lives, we should consider
the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim as the ‘fruit’ of our existence, and that
which we must do (including the servicing of our bodies) as the means to
attain this goal. As we count through the Sefirah towards Kabbalas HaTorah--we
must remind ourselves that we are going somewhere--we are headed in a
direction, we are clear as to what is the tafel of life--and what is
SUNDAY IS PESACH SHENI!
Yaakov Tzvi Emden, Z’TL (“the Yaavetz”) writes in his Siddur that:
was revealed to me from Heaven why Pesach Sheni was established on the 14th
day of Iyar. After all, it would not require more than two weeks for anyone
who was impure or too far away on Pesach itself to come to Yerushalayim and
bring the Pesach Sheni. So, why wait a month from the 14th of Nissan to the
14th of Iyar--the Pesach Sheni could have already been brought by Rosh
Chodesh Iyar?!” The reason given to HaRav Emden from Heaven was that Bnei
Yisrael had sufficient Matzos to last from the time of our Exodus from
Mitzrayim for 30 days--until the night of the 15th of Iyar! In other words,
the Exodus, and all of the Kedusha that came along with it, actually lasted
for a full month after the night of Makkas Bechoros and our gathering to
leave the next morning. The holiness that extended from Yetziyas Mitzrayim,
then, extended until Pesach Sheni!
Torah teaches (Bamidbar 9:10) that the actual Korban Pesach Sheni is brought
when a person cannot bring the Korban Pesach in its proper time--either
because, for example, he was rendered impure, or because he was too far away
from the Courtyard of the Bais HaMikdash at the time the original Pesach
offering was to be brought. The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes that a
great lesson of Pesach Sheni is that it teaches us that it is never too
late, and it is always possible, to “Remove your tumah”--shed your
impurity, and to come closer to Hashem after “Having been too far away”.
Accordingly, Pesach Sheni is a time of reflection and Teshuva. We should
take some time out to properly utilize the opportunity of the day.
final point on Pesach Sheni: there is a difference in custom as to if and
when one eats Matzah. According to one opinion, one should not eat Matzah,
for it may appear as if he is attempting to fulfill the Mitzvah of Matzah in
an improper time, which is a violation of the Torah’s prohibition against
adding onto the 613 Mitzvos. Others have the custom to eat Matzah sometime
during the day on the 14th, to remember that the Korbon Pesach
Sheni was brought today. A third opinion is to eat the Matzah tonight,
i.e., the night of the 15th of Iyar, for this would be the night
that the Korban Pesach Sheni was eaten together with Matzah and Marror.
Every person should follow his custom, or his Rav’s guidance, in this area.
YAHRZEIT OF REBBI MEIR:
Sunday is also commonly held as the Yahrtzeit of the Great Tanna, Rebbi Meir
(also known as Rebbe Meir Ba’al Haness). There are those who have the
custom of putting money in the Pushka L’Ilui Nishmaso, and reciting “Aloka
D’Meir Anaini” three times. There are specific Tefillos which are
attributed to the Chasam Sofer relating to good health, blessing and
success; success in one’s business dealings and locating lost items which
one may recite any time during the year when placing money into a Pushka
L’Ilui Nishmas Rebbi Meir. To obtain copies of these tefillos, one can
contact the Rebbi Meir Ba’al Haness Kolel Shomrei Hachomos office near you.
They may also be found on the back of Pushkas distributed by Kolel Shomrei
Hachomos. May the Zechuyos of Rebbi Meir always stand in our stead!
KEEPING SHABBOS IN OUR TIME:
The following link is to an essential four (4) minute video produced by the
Business Halacha Institute explaining how business owners can ensure that
their operations are consistent with Hilchos Shabbos
“Hashem has created Kindness Coaches to enable us to reach our
maximum potential. They are known as the people in need. They help
us clarify our vision and goals, keep us focused, do our best, and live up
to Torah values. They can help us double our giving time….As Chazal teach,
when you give a tenth to charity, you will become wealthier and able to
continue giving more….” Hakhel Note: We, as a people of Gomlei Chasodim,
not only perform acts of kindness, but understand that we must continuously
strive for greater and greater heights. We must be extremely appreciative
and respectful of the Coaches--as we join together in providing Hashem with
Nachas from His beloved children! [From “Choose Kindness” by
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita]
THREE IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM THE CHOFETZ CHAIM:
1. The Sefer Otzros HaTorah (Sefiras HaOmer, page 389) provides a
remarkable incident that occurred to HaRav Bentzion Krenfus, a close talmid
of the Chofetz Chaim, who was often in his home. Once when he entered the
Chofetz Chaim’s home he saw him sitting and crying profusely. He immediately
asked the Chofetz Chaim what was wrong. The Chofetz Chaim responded: “I just
completed learning the Sefer Raishis Chochma and I learned there that
if someone suffers bizyonos in this world--then the amount of gehenom
that he must otherwise be subjected to can be greatly reduced. I am crying
for myself--why have I been punished by not having to suffer bizyonos
in this world--which would save me so much punishment in the next?!
Hakhel Note: How we must treasure the shame, the degradations, the
insults that we are zoche to receive.
2. The wise person realizes that his battle with the Yetzer Hara is a battle
against a ganav--the Yetzer Hara is out to steal one’s most precious
possessions--his time and his Torah. Teshuvah is re-taking that which the
Yetzer Hara has stolen from the person.
Hakhel Note: Do not make yourself into your own victim!
3. Every morning we recite about the Torah: “Vechayei Olam Natah
B’Socheinu”. Additionally, every night we recite: “Ki Heim Chayeinu”.
There are many Jewish people who are alive and know little or no Torah. If
one who does not study much (or perhaps as much as he should) wants to be
considered alive--he should do his utmost to support those who do study
Torah, and it will be considered as if he was learning Torah--and he too
will be breathing the life-giving air of Torah (see Shulchan Aruch
Yoreh De’ah 246).
The following is excerpted from Growth Through Tehillim (by Rabbi
Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, as well!) on the words of Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim
52:3) ‘Chesed Kel Kol HaYom--the kindness of Hashem is all day
Whatever day it is right now as you are reading this, the kindness of Hashem
has been there for you from the beginning of the day, until this moment, and
the kindness of Hashem will be with you for the rest of the day until the
new day starts. Tomorrow again you will be a beneficiary of the kindness of
Hashem, and this will continue each and every day for your entire life. This
has been going on from your very first day of life and each and every day
after that until this moment. Imagine how you will feel when you experience
an entire day with this consciousness. From the moment you open your eyes in
the morning until you go to sleep at night, every moment will have awareness
of Hashem’s kindness towards you. Allow yourself to be aware of being the
recipient of constant kindness for an entire day. Every movement you make is
an aspect of Hashem’s kindness. Everything you own is an aspect of Hashem’s
kindness. Every interaction with other people has aspects of this
kindness. Every bit of food you eat and every drop of water you drink is an
aspect of this constant kindness. And what about the things that you
usually overlook? On the day at you decide to become more aware of the
kindnesses you experience, you will notice more and more things. You will
see what you might not have seen before, and you will hear what you might
not have heard before. You will feel feelings of gratitude and joy that you
otherwise might not have felt. You will find yourself being more aware of
Hashem’s presence, and you will allow your mind to be filled with thoughts
of appreciation for Hashem’s kindness to you. You will be more present
oriented, and you will focus less on anything you are dissatisfied with
about the past. You will be free from stressful thoughts about the future -
you will be focused on the present kindnesses. When you do this, if your
mind needlessly wanders to some thoughts that are not conducive to
appreciation of kindness, you will gently and lightly re-direct your
consciousness to the present kindness that you are experiencing. Just
knowing that your mind has the ability to direct your thoughts, is a
wonderful kindness of Hashem. Just how does your mind direct your thoughts
to thoughts of kindness? We have no way to explain this with our present
limited knowledge, but the knowledge we do have of what we are able to do,
is something for which to be grateful. What would your entire life be like
from now on if you would take this Pasuk as a concept to focus on
frequently? There is only one way to really answer this question accurately,
and that is to make this Pasuk-- Chesed Kel Kol HaYom a verse
that will frequently be on your lips. For when you repeat it out loud and to
yourself, your inner mind will focus on the kindnesses that you are
experiencing right now, on this very day.
A joyful middle-aged man was
asked, “What was a major breakthrough in your life?” He related, “I used to
be what one would consider a negative person “Until about ten years ago I
would frequently complain and kvetch, I usually focusing on what I did not
like. Each and every day a number of things were not going exactly as I
wanted them to. This would make me unhappy. I considered myself a constant
victim of circumstances. I would have been much happier if other people, and
my life in general, would be more the way I wanted. In addition, I never had
enough money, and I was terrified that in the future I would be short of the
money that I needed to live. I was filled with insecurity and anxiety. Then
a Rabbi told me that he could tell me four words that would totally change
my entire emotional life. I was skeptical. “Four words?” I challenged him.
“Do you really believe that after three years of therapy that helped a bit
but did not make me a happy person, you can just tell me four words and
those four words will transform my entire life?” “Try it, I am not claiming
that these four words are magic, and that just by my saying them or your
repeating them, you will become a happy person. What I am saying to you is
that these four words contain a mind-set that can totally transform your
life when you give thought to what they mean, and you frequently think about
this during the day. I’ll only agree to share them with you if you give me
your word that you will make a serious effort to apply them for just one
day.” “One day is a long time,” I argued. “What about for just one hour?”
“Nothing doing!” the Rabbi said firmly but kindly. “If you are
not/committed to think about this for an entire day, I don’t think that you
are serious when you say that you would like to know how to improve your
emotional condition. If you do not care about your own well-being, my just
wishing you well will not really help you. For this to work, you need a real
commitment. After a day of applying what I am suggesting, if you feel that
you prefer to be grumpy, negative and depressed, that will be your choice.
However, I must know that you really mean what you say, when you say that
you truly want to become a happier person.” I saw that the Rabbi was going
to be stubborn, or as he would say, ‘steadfast,’ about not telling me his
formula unless I committed to giving it a try for an entire day, so I
reluctantly said I would do it. He then told me the verse that has been my
motto, and blueprint for life, ever since that moment. The four Hebrew words
are Chesed Keil Kol HaYom, the Kindness of Hashem is all day long.
Since I said it in Hebrew, it was just four words. He told me that I should
start the next day from the moment I woke up until the end of the day. It
was amazing! That day was one of the best days of my life. I kept projecting
how wonderful my life would be if I kept this up each and every day. At
times I would feel badly that I had wasted so much time in the past feeling
needlessly miserable, but that too would be a lack of focusing on the
kindnesses of Hashem. I realized that it would be much wiser to view my
past unhappiness as a way to gain greater appreciation for the present
happiness in my life!”
Hakhel Note: Let us move ourselves every day with these words--
Chesed Keil Kol HaYom!
B’TZEDEK TISHPOT AMISECHA!
In last week’s Parasha (Vayikra 19:15), we learned B’Tzedek Tishpot
Amisecha--we are to judge our friends favorably. What if we do not?
We provide several points:
1. Chazal teach (Shabbos 97A) that one who is Choshed BeChesheirim--(improperly
suspects others) is Lokeh BeGufo. This is easily explained in a
Middah K’Neged Middah manner--just as he put a Mum on someone else,
so too, will he receive a Mum in return.
2. Being a Choshed BeChesheirim is listed as one of the twenty four
items which are Me’akeiv Teshuvah--for the person who improperly accuses
does not feel that he has really done something wrong or hurt
someone, while the very thought is an aveirah.
3. Chazal also teach that if somebody is Choshed his friend
improperly--he must appease him and he must bless him--as we find
with Eili HaKohen who suspected Chana of being a Shikorah--and then
appeased her and gave her a bracha…and what a bracha it was--Shmuel HaNavi!
If one improperly suspected another (including a family member or
friend)--don’t forget to ask for forgiveness--and don’t forget to give them
a nice big bracha!
4. In the Sefer HaYirah, Rabbeinu Yonah writes that one should
specifically forgive all those who improperly suspected him.
5. Do not feel bad if someone has falsely suspected you--the Gemara (Shabbos
118B) brings the teaching of Rebbi Yosi--”Yehi Chelki Mimi Shechoshdin
Oso V’ein Bo--may my lot be among those who have been suspected of
something which is not true.” One explanation for this may be that Hashem
especially seeks to protect those who are derided. Notwithstanding this
fact, one should not go about seeking that suspicion be heaped upon him, for
the Pasuk teaches “Veheyisem Neki’im MeiHashem U’MeiYisrael--one
should always appear clean in the eyes of Hashem, and in the eyes of His
Hakhel Note: The Pasuk of B’tzedek Tishpot Amisecha teaches us that
whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not--we are all judges.
We should strive for excellence in everything that we do--and if we must be
judges, let us perform the task with propriety, correctness, honor and care!
A PRACTICAL REVIEW OF CONSTRUCTIVE
CRITICISM: “Hochayach Tochiach
Es Amisecho, V’lo Siso Alov Chait--You shall rebuke your fellow
man, and you shall not bear sin because of him.” (19:17) We are commanded
to correct someone who behaves improperly, whether in matters pertaining to
man’s relations with G-d or man’s relationship with his fellow man. Once
again, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, provides the following essential
*The most important rule to remember about rebuke is that it must be
administered with love and as painlessly as possible. Only when the
recipient of rebuke feels that the rebuker loves him, will he readily accept
*Some people mistakenly think that the commandment to admonish others
applies only to Rabbis and teachers. But the truth is that every single
person, even if he is unlearned, who sees someone behaving improperly is
obligated to rebuke him. Quite often the rebuke of a friend will be more
effective than the rebuke of a Rabbi. Some people might not heed the
admonition of a Rabbi with the following rationalization: “If I were a Rabbi
I would or would not do such and such. But I’m just an ordinary layman.”
If, however, their friend rebukes them, they are likely to think to
themselves: “If he is careful about this matter, then I should be, too.”
The author of the Noam Hatochocho writes that the mitzvah of
correcting others is a Mais Mitzvah (a Mitzvah that is improperly ignored).
There are many Mitzvah observers who do not realize that correcting others
is obligatory and not merely meritorious. The severity of failing to
correct others can be seen from the opinion in the Talmud which states that
Yerushalayim was destroyed because the inhabitants failed to rebuke one
another. The Chofetz Chaim wrote that some people are careful to fulfill
the commandments themselves, but never try to influence others to fulfill
them. In essence, they are saying, “I won’t suffer in gehinnom, so I don’t
have to…..” Such a person is selfish for he thinks only about himself and
his own reward. He shows a lack of feeling for Hashem’s honor and his
fellow man’s spiritual welfare. He is also wrong--for he will be held
responsible for failing to perform this essential Mitzvah.
* When you rebuke someone, you must do so privately so as not to embarrass
him. This applies both when the matter pertains to his having wronged you,
and when the matter pertains to his improper behavior relating to his
obligations to G-d.
*If someone transgresses in public, you should rebuke him immediately so as
not to cause a Chillul Hashem. For example, if someone is in the middle of
speaking Lashon Hara in front of a group of people, it is correct to point
out his transgression immediately, even though other people are present. Of
course, this should be done in the most tactful manner possible (HaRav
*You must be very careful not to grow angry when rebuking someone. Rebuke
delivered in anger will not be heeded. Even when you admonish your children
or other members of your family, you should do so in a pleasant tone of
*Before admonishing someone, offer a prayer that your admonition should be
delivered in a manner that will be effective.
*If a person you have rebuked did not heed you the first time, you should
continue to rebuke him as many times as necessary until he corrects his
ways. The Talmud says “Even a hundred times”. The Chofetz Chaim gives an
analogy to someone who sells apples from a stand. He will keep calling out
“Apples for sale!” the entire day. Even if only one passerby in a hundred
heeds his sales pitch, it is worthwhile. This is his livelihood, and he
cannot afford to remain silent. The same is true of rebuke. Of course, a
person does not always effect a change in the recipient of his rebuke. But
even if he is successful only occasionally, it is worth his efforts.
*A person should feel love for someone who rebukes him. A person is willing
to pay a doctor for trying to heal him; how much more grateful should he be
to someone who corrects his spiritual failings.
*If a whole group of people are in need of correction, you will be most
successful if you admonish each person individually. Speaking to the group
as a whole will not have the same effect.
*If a person heeds you and improves his ways, all the Mitzvos he
subsequently performs as a consequence of this reproof bring reward to you
as well as the doer himself (Vilna Gaon in Even Shlaima 6:7).
POWER OF A WORD:
explaining the 231st Mitzvah, found in last week’s Parasha, the
Sefer HaChinuch teaches as follows (English translation by Charles
Wengrov, Feldheim publishing): “Now,
to know in what
on a cursed
generally from all the people in the
world that they are fearful about curses--both Jewry and other peoples. They
say that anyone’s malediction, even the curse of a commoner, leaves a mark
on the cursed person, and the imprecation and the pain cling to him. Well,
knowing this concept from people’s words, we would say that at the root of
the precept lies the reason that Hashem has restrained us from causing harm
with our mouths to anyone else, as He has restrained us from harming others
by action. In a vein akin to this theme, Chazal say: ‘A covenant (pact) was
made with the lips--whatever they utter should have an effect. In other
words, there is a force in the words of a man’s mouth.”
bring the above quote to learn and eternalize the tremendous power our mouth
has, even though our sound waves are not visible to the naked eye. However,
we now add several additional Halachos relating to this particular Mitzvah
as culled once again from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin,
“Lo Sekalel Cheireish--it is forbidden to curse others” (Vayikra 19:14)
1. It is forbidden to curse a person using any of Hashem’s names. (Choshen
2. Saying to someone, ‘Hashem should punish you,’ is a violation of this
prohibition. (U’rim Vetumim 27: 2)
3. It is considered using Hashem’s name even when the name is not in
Hebrew. (Choshen Mishpat 27: 1)
4. A person is forbidden to curse himself (ibid.) It is forbidden to say
concerning a false statement: “This statement is true, so help me G-d.”
This is considered cursing oneself, since from the positive we infer the
negative. (Sha’arei Teshuva 3:47)
5. It is an especially severe transgression to curse a Torah scholar (C.M.
27:2), or an entire group. (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 4:3)
6. Although using Hashem’s name constitutes a more serious offense, it is
nonetheless forbidden to curse someone without using Hashem’s name (ibid.).
(For instance, it is forbidden to state ‘I hope you fall off a…’)
7. It is forbidden to curse someone by the use of an inference. For
example: “You should not be blessed by Hashem.” (ibid.)
8. Cursing someone who .is deceased is not as serious as cursing someone
who is alive, but it is nevertheless forbidden. (ibid.)
9. If someone says Hashem’s name with the intention of cursing another
person, it is a mitzvah to interrupt him so as to prevent him from
transgressing. (Sefer Chasidim 64)
The Vilna Gaon advised his wife to strike their children if she ever heard
them cursing someone. (Igeres HaGra)
THE SHIDDUCH CHECKLIST:
As we all know, it is not only what you say--but how you say it. It is
certainly a great Mitzvah to redt Shidduchim. By the following link
http://tinyurl.com/z2hc8jn we provide helpful guidelines in redting
a Shidduch properly and effectively.
OF THE DAY:
The following is excerpted from the remarkable, must-go-through Sefer
The Power of Teshuvah, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (Artscroll, p.
strength to a person.
makes a definite commitment,
Hashem eases his path to assist him. These
for flaws we are truly motivated
BRACHOS OVER ‘NATURAL’ EVENTS:
once again especially provide Halachos below relating to Hashem’s messages
from nature to us. The basis for the Halachos below is Shulchan Aruch, Orach
Chaim, Chapter 227 and the Mishna Berurah there, the Sefer Shoneh
Halachos and the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos on this Chapter in
Shulchan Aruch. We specifically note that one should, of course, consult
with his Rav for the final Halacha. We present the following for an
understanding of the issues:
1. When experiencing an earthquake, one recites the Bracha of “Oseh
Ma’aseh Bereishis--Who makes the work of Creation”. It is also
permissible to make the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso Malei Olam--His
strength and His power fill the universe”. Piskei Teshuvos writes
that the degree of the tremor is not necessarily relevant, as long as it is
clearly felt. HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, teaches that one should recite the
Pasuk from Sefer Yeshaya (6:3) “V’Kara Zeh El Zeh V’Amar Kadosh…”
three times, and the earthquake will cease. Indeed, he brings that this
Pasuk is specifically intended to cover the situation of an earthquake!
2. On very strong winds, i.e., winds which uproot either heavy objects
or items attached to the ground or to buildings which would not ordinarily
have been uprooted, one makes an “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis”. On a
hurricane (killer type of wind), the Piskei Teshuvos writes that one
can make the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso”, but HaRav Chaim
Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that in all events one should make the Bracha of “Oseh
Ma’aseh Beraishis,” because we are not proficient as to the degree of
wind that is necessary to make “Shekocho U’Gevuraso.”
3. On lightning, and on thunder, one can make either “Oseh Ma’aseh
Beraishis” or “Shekocho U’Gevuraso.” However, the custom is to
make the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis” on lightning, and the Bracha of
“Shekocho U’Gevuraso” on thunder. We note that in many Sephardic
communities, the custom may be to recite these Brochos without “Shem
U’Malchus” (i.e., skipping from Baruch to “Oseh” or Baruch to “Shekocho”).
4. If one sees lightning and hears thunder simultaneously, he makes one
Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis” on both (he would also be yotzei
with the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso” on both as well).
5. One does not make a Bracha on lightning which comes only from heat.
If one is unsure of the source of the lightning, he should wait until he
hears thunder. Then, he makes one Bracha--Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis--if
he experiences them together (as noted in the previous paragraph). However,
if he does not experience them together--for example, if he then hears
thunder without simultaneous lightning, he makes a Bracha of “Shekocho
U’Gevuraso,” and then when he sees lightning (again) he makes the Bracha
of “Oseh Ma’aseh Beraishis.”
6. If one already had commenced making a Bracha on lightning and then,
while making that Bracha, he heard thunder, he must make a second Bracha on
the thunder later (once again, within two to three seconds after hearing the
thunder). The same would, of course, be true if he had already begun to
make a Bracha on thunder, and then saw lightning--he would make a second
Bracha on lightning within two or three seconds after seeing it again later.
7. There is a Machlokes among the Poskim as to whether one has to see
the actual lightning bolt in order to make the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh
Beraishis” (HaRav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, for instance, holds that one
must see the bolt). Many Poskim (including HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach,
Z’tl, and the Tzitz Eliezer, Z’tl) rule that one need not see the bolt
itself and that, accordingly, one can make the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh
Beraishis” when merely seeing the light flash--and not the actual bolt
in the sky.
8. Once again, one must make the Bracha within two to three seconds
after seeing the lightning or hearing the thunder. Accordingly, if one came
out of the bathroom and washed his hands, and then saw lightning or heard
thunder, he should immediately make the Bracha before reciting Asher Yotzar
(usually one must be careful to recite the Bracha of Asher Yotzar
immediately after coming out of the bathroom).
9. Because one must make the Bracha so soon after experiencing the
lightning or thunder, one may find himself in the midst of Tefillah, and an
important issue becomes whether one should interrupt his prayers in order
not to miss the Bracha and Hisoreirus opportunity which will quickly
pass. Once again, one should consult with his Rav on any particular Shaila,
we provide here Halachos as excerpted from the Siddur Kavanas
interruptions in Tefillah to make the Bracha over lightning and thunder:
During Pesukei DeZimra (except while reciting Baruch Atta Hashem Melech
MeHulal Batishbachos, or Baruch Atta Hashem Kel Melech Gadol
In between (not during) Brachos of Kriyas Shema, or in between
(not during) the first and second and second and third Chapters of Kriyas
interruptions in Tefillah to make the Bracha over lightning and thunder--i.e.,
do not make the Bracha at these times:
After having made the Bracha on the Tefillin Shel Yad, and before completing
placement of the Tefillin Shel Rosh.
In the middle of one of the Birchos Kriyas Shema, or in the middle of any
Chapter of Shema.
In Shemone Esrei, and even in the middle of Elokai Netzor at the end of
Shemone Esrei until after Yehiyu LeRatzon Imrei Phee.
When in the middle Birchas HaMazon.
E. When in the middle of a making a Bracha (even long Brachos such as
Asher Yatzar or HaMa’avir Sheina)
10. If one mistakenly made a Bracha over a flash of light or a
thundering noise thinking that it was thunder or lightning (such as an
airplane passing overhead at night), he would have to make the appropriate
Brochos when he actually hears thunder or sees lightning later.
One can assume (unless there is a basis to believe otherwise) that one’s
hands are clean, and he does not have to wash them in order to recite the
Although not absolutely required by Halacha, it is preferable that one
stands when making these two Brochos.
One makes the Bracha over lightning and thunder only one time a day during
the same storm. If the sky completely clears up, and new storm clouds come
in, then one makes new Brochos over lightning and thunder even a second time
during the day.
If a storm had commenced the previous day or even the previous evening, and
has still not cleared up by the time one arises the next morning, one would
make new Brochos the next morning after daybreak. In other words, the
evening and the next morning are considered two separate days for the
Brochos over lightning and thunder (just like Birchos HaTorah)--so that one
would make new Brochos upon hearing lightning and thunder when awakening the
We should in all events remember that Chazal (Brochos 59A) teach that
thunder was invented only to “straighten out the crookedness in the heart,”
and thank Hashem for the ordinary and extraordinary events that take place
every day--and for our ability to understand and appreciate them!
TORAH AND YIRAH:
In the Sefer Ruach Chaim (1:14), HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl,
writes that the study of Torah and Yirah is different from the business and
affairs of this world in three important ways:
1. Torah and Yirah are dependent entirely upon the person himself,
and is what Hashem asks of a person to accomplish. Parnassah, on the other
hand, comes only from Hashem and there is accordingly no need to
overly exert oneself to attain it.
2. In worldly affairs, Hashem will not add on to what a person is
deserving of because of his added toil--whereas, with regard to Torah, ‘Haba
LeTaher Mesayin Oso--the more one acts to purify himself, the more he
is assisted.’ Moreover, Hashem will view all of a person’s
accomplishments in Torah and Yirah, and if they were wholly accomplished by
the person himself, even though none of it could have been accomplished
without Hashem’s Chessed.
3. In commonplace matters, that which a person does not accomplish today,
he can still accomplish tomorrow. In Torah, that which was lost today, is
forever lost and cannot be made up. On the other hand, that which is
accomplished is not accomplished only for today--but forever, and
Remember--Torah was created before creation, so is not bound by time--and
will lovingly carry us beyond time as well!
ANOTHER KIND OF COUNT:
The Chofetz Chaim
provides simple guidance as to how a person can accrue thousands of Mitzvos
over the course of a year: If one consciously decides not to say certain
words about a person, a family, or a group--then each word is a separate
Mitzvah in Shemiras Halashon. Assuming a person spares himself of uttering
only ten inappropriate words a day (just one or two sentences)--then he has
accrued a minimum of 10 x 365 or 3,650 Mitzvos. Considering that each
Mitzvah lasts for eternity--this is a lot of eternity!
Note--Received From a Reader:
“Concerning memorizing the seven conditions to permit what would otherwise
be considered Lashon Hara, I saw a helpful acronym to help one remember
(from Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, Shlita, Praying with Joy-Volume 3)
- the incident yourself
- well into whether the subject definitely transgressed
- do not exaggerate the details of the story
- the transgressor gently before speaking
- intentions of the speaker
- ways other than Lashon Hara to accomplish your goal
- no more damage than Beis Din would rule
above conditions or keep silent!”
CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR A MINUTE:
In the fast-paced world we live in, it is difficult to collect our thoughts,
even more so to do a deliberate Cheshbon HaNefesh. We see how quickly
our computers, cell phones and other technological equipment operates--and
for some reason the Yetzer Hara convinces us that we have to move our
thought processes at this pace as well. Perhaps we owe it to ourselves to
designate at least a minute or so in the morning and in the evening--as a
time to sit and close our eyes in order to think about a particular middah
or an area of Teshuvah or Mitzvos we are or should be working on. The rapid
pace of the world around us--should not interfere with the attention and
with the care--that we deserve to give ourselves!
A TRUE ENIGMA:
The following is excerpted from the Sefer HaRav Schach: Conversations,
compiled by his son in-law Rabbi Asher Bergman, Shlita, and translated into
English by Rabbi Yaakov Blinder, Shlita: “Rav Schach said that one of the
things that moves him
tremendously is contemplating the amazing power
of concealment of Hashem’s hand in
creation. ‘Other people wonder why we don’t see
miracles and visible proofs for faith in Hashem,’
‘but I am amazed at the tremendous power that
man receives from Heaven to be able to
disregard the facts that virtually shout
into his ears: ‘Here
is proof for your faith in Hashem!’
People say that nowadays we don’t
see miracles. But a rational person can
see that every lifting of one’s hand is a miracle,
as every glance with the eye.
See how a little piece of flesh can
move around and be able to see things, and to
provide information to the brain,
which interprets and analyzes it.
These facts declare, as
clearly as the sun shines:
‘U’mibesar Echezeh Elo’ak--from
my flesh I see Hashem’ (Iyov 19:26).
One who ponders such things just a tiny
bit can already sense the beauty of
creation that Hashem
brought into being in order to bestow His
beneficence upon us.
Yet, along with the obviousness of
presence, He created the ability to be oblivious to the
providing an enigma:
On the one hand,
one who truly
contemplates the beneficence of the Creator is
so impressed with the G-dliness of the
world that he wonders how it is possible that
there could be evil in the world,
so manifest is
goodness to us. Yet,
on the other hand,
those who close their minds
ask precisely the opposite question - ‘Where is
look for proofs for faith in Him. It is incredible how at the same time
there is both clarity and concealment; it is all so simple, yet so hidden!
Let us consider another aspect of this marvel.
We see that man’s desire to attain
physical comfort and pleasure drives him into undertaking the greatest toil
in order to achieve them.
It would seem that man’s
recognition of the truth should
be at least as strong as these drives,
and should stir within man the strongest
desires to foster a relationship with his Creator and do His will.
We have seen throughout history that nations are willing to sacrifice
millions of lives for ideals and beliefs that were the products of their own
our sacrifice for our perfect Torah be any less valid than their idle
The realization and feeling that man was not created by accident,
and that there is a Mastermind Who runs the world’s events are basic and
natural in man’s
soul and instinct from the day
of his birth.
Just a minimum of truthful contemplation
and deliberation will bring any man to
clear conclusions regarding man’s essence and
his obligation in this world,
namely that he must channel all the
power of his body and soul to do the will of the
All this is so simple and natural.
It can only be a divine miracle of the highest
magnitude that these obvious facts go unnoticed and unrealized for so many
NAOMI AND RUS TODAY!
We are now only four weeks from the giving of the Torah in 5776. The
following is excerpted from the wonderful work Leading Jews Back by
Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of HaRav Avraham Pam,
Z’tl: “What did Rus see in Naomi that impressed her so much? The Midrash (Rus
Rabbah 2:5) gives an explanation: Why was she called Naomi? Because
her actions were sweet and pleasant.
Rus saw in Naomi what a life devoted to Torah and Avodas Hashem can do for a
person. She saw her sterling middos, her nobility of spirit, her warmth and
caring personality. That was what attracted Rus and motivated her to give
up a life of ease and luxury and “return” to Yiddishkeit as a penniless,
widowed convert, forced to live off the charity of others. This is the
enormous power a person with a pleasant, warm personality and good middos
has on other people. He attracts followers like a magnet and can have
great influence on their lives.
This is a proven method to bring closer to Yiddishkeit those who are
estranged from the heritage of their forefathers. While philosophical
discussions and intellectual discourses are certainly tools in bringing
Ba’alei Teshuvah back to their roots, a critical factor is to show how the
ways of Torah are pleasant and all its pathways are peace (Mishlei 3:17).
This has the drawing power to influence people to a Torah way of life.
Derech Eretz precedes Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 9:3). This concept underlines
the vital importance of Torah Jews conducting themselves with the utmost
courtesy and respect in their interpersonal relationships. They must not
forget that wherever they go--whether in the business or professional world,
or as neighbors or friends--they represent the Torah.
One does not have to be a Rabbi or kiruv professional to
influence others. Every Torah Jew presents an image to those around him
which, depending on his conduct, will either bring others closer to
Yiddishkeit or, c’v, cause estrangement from it. It is a
responsibility that should not be taken lightly. This can be seen by the
great influence one woman (Naomi) has on another (Rus), which set into
motion the chain of events which led to the founding of Malchus Bais Dovid
and planted the seeds of Moshiach.
Hakhel Note: Let us start somewhere--do you smile in order to benefit the
next person (whom you do not know) when passing by, or on elevators or
entrances in stores and office buildings?...
obvious that improving our respect for each other is a key feature of our
Sefira Period. Set forth below are a number of important suggestions culled
from Mussar Seforim. We welcome your additional insights or improvement in
this crucial area during this timely period:
Pirkei Avos, we learned (2:5) last Shabbos: ‘Yehi Kavod Chavercha Chaviv
Alecha KeShelach--let the honor of your friend be as dear to you as your
own honor.’ When in doubt as to how to react to, or treat your
friend, keep this Ma’amar Chazal in mind!
Look at your friend while speaking to him, and do not occupy yourself with
something else at the same time.
free with compliments, and loving with constructive criticism.
genuinely happy when your friend is happy, and feel genuinely troubled when
he is troubled.
When a friend is undergoing a nisayon, apply yourself so that you can
best appreciate how to help him.
Avoid a witty repartee which only make you look good or funny, but will not
benefit your friend, or may even hurt him.
you had a disagreement, ask for forgiveness first, before your friend asks
Chazal teach that Bais Hillel would present the opinion of Bais Shammai
first--let your friend always speak or go first.
Do not yell, scream, or speak coarsely but speak gently, remember that you
are speaking to a member of Hashem’s Royal Household!
From time-to-time think--My friend is a Tzelem Elokim--someone who
Hashem has especially created for a specific purpose in life. I know
him--so I have something to do with his purpose!
INTERNATIONAL CHESED HELPLINE:
remarkable free service provides a wealth of Chesed information around the
718-705-5000 (it begins with a very special menu of automated
INSPIRE YOURSELF--From a Reader: “To inspire myself before davening, I sometimes
think of the words of Tehillim which so strongly state how our Tefillos are
answered: “Hashem Elokai Shivati Eilecha Vatirpa’eini--Hashem, my
G-d, I cried out to You and You healed me (Tehillim 30:3) …Tza’aku
VeHashem Shome’ah U’Mekol Tzarosam Hitzilam--they cried out and Hashem
heard, and saved them from all of their troubles.” (Tehillim 34:18).
We have to know that are Tefillos are really listened to!”
From A Reader: “A package containing a CD and a small booklet was left on
my door by a Christian missionary group called Israel Restoration
Missionaries, a group in California. The package says “A Gift Prepared
Especially for You: Israel Restoration.” Parents should be warned to trash
it immediately and protect children from listening or reading this misguided
material. On the website the Israel Restoration Missionaries clearly reveal
their goal to reach out “to lost Jews.”
AN IMPORTANT SEFIRA THOUGHT!
It is well known that HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, teaches and reiterates that our
Holidays are not mere commemorations and remembrances of glorious events
that took place in years past, but are times in which we re-experience and
relive those very events and occurrences. Thus, every Pesach we are to feel
and arrive at new levels of freedom, and at Shavuos we are to undertake a
new echelon of Torah acceptance and study.
So what is it that we are supposed to be re-experiencing during the Sefira
period itself? Most likely, there were no concerts or CDs in the desert
that Bnei Yisrael were forced to miss, so that could not be it. It also
cannot simply be an abstinence from barbers and barber shops for an extended
period of time. At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita,
provided the following wonderful insight:
The Sefer HaChinuch writes that the purpose of the Sefira is for us
to count up to Shavous, instilling within us a sense of appreciation,
excitement and enthusiasm. As we slowly but surely progress through the
Omer period, we must rid ourselves to the greatest extent possible of the
robotic nature in which we may perform our mitzvos, and any mental stupor we
may experience while listening to a Shiur. We must teach ourselves that
Torah and Mitzvos cannot be comprised only of “doing today’s daf”, or
“learning the two Halachos”. Of course, it is essential that we have goals,
and guide ourselves with certain daily accomplishments. However, we must
infuse a genuine desire and drive into our Torah study and Mitzvah
performance. As Rabbi Schneider points out, even though fish live in water,
when it rains they come to the surface, as if they are thirsting for the new
drops of the life-giving liquid, even though they are already surrounded by
Indeed, Hakhel (forgive the plug), is one of the last Mitzvos in the Torah
for this very reason. What does Hakhel represent? After all, could not
every one simply study the Parashios recited at Hakhel either at home, in
Shul, or at a Shiur? Why did every one--man, women and children of all ages
have to ascend to the Bais HaMikdash on one particular day to hear a portion
of the Torah being read?!
Rabbi Schneider suggests that Hakhel not only represented the study of
Torah, but the experience of Torah. Every so often, one must reinvigorate
himself and excite himself about the great opportunity that awaits him every
day. It is an opportunity shared by a minute, actually, very minute,
percentage of all the people in the world. Just as people may forget to
appreciate their eyesight, their ability to walk, that they have a job,
food, clothing, so, too, may they forget to consider the infinite and
eternal Torah that is or can be their daily companion.
take these upcoming days before Shavuos to learn Torah with the effort and
energy, with the exhilaration and enthusiasm, that it really, truly
WE CONTINUE OUR EREV SHABBOS—HILCHOS SHABBOS SERIES: As always, one must consult his
own Rav or Posek regarding his particular facts or circumstances.
A. The Tissue Box. Many tissue boxes, in addition to a perforated
cardboard cover, also have underneath it a perforated plastic protective
cover, which must be opened in order to reach the tissues. Opening the
plastic on the perforation may actually involve three different Melachos: (i)
Korei’ah, (ii) Mechateich; and (iii) Makeh B’Patish (see The 39 Melachos
by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita). While the simple act of opening on the
perforation may take a second and can be done by children, it could truly
involve the most serious of transgressions. Accordingly, one should take
note to fully open all tissue boxes before Shabbos. Please assist your Shul,
as necessary, in this regard--and let others know as well!
B. The follow rulings are from HaShabbos BeTifarta by Rav
Avrohom Adas, Shlita of Yerushalayim, (Hebrew, and Volume 2):
a. [In a similar vein to what is mentioned above,] one may not rip a thin
plastic table cloth from a roll—even if it is not on the perforation,
because you have in all events prepared it for use (Koraya).
b. One may not utilize a one-time use bib by punching out the plastic of the
head area (Koraya).
c. One may not separate a new pair of socks attached by a string, or remove
price tags or cleaners tags which are sewn or stapled into clothing (Koraya).
However, if they are merely hung from a plastic string, one can remove the
tag, because it is not attached tightly, and its removal does not affect the
clothing in the same way as something stapled or sewn, which is considered
more intrinsically part of the clothing.
d. One may remove a Sefer that is tightly squeezed in a Seforim shrank, even
though it is stuck to its adjoining Seforim—and one can put it back after
use, even though it will again become stuck to its adjoining Seforim (it is
clearly not one’s intent to attach or detach the Seforim).
e. If a silver polish was left on a Kiddush cup, it should not be rinsed off
IT’S A RASHI!
We provide below several wonderful words of instruction from Rashi himself
to this week’s Perek (2) in Pirkei Avos:
A. Hevei Mechashev Hefsed Mitzvah K’neged Sechara--think of
the loss from a Mitzvah in light of the gain: The Mishna is teaching
us that when one loses money in order to perform a Mitzvah, he should
not be upset or saddened, as the reward in the future is great--the most
basic cost-benefit analysis tells you to JUST DO THE MITZVAH! The reverse is
true in aveirah performance--although the immediate pleasure is definite,
immediate and direct--the future loss far, far outweighs it--DON”T DO
B. Ahl Tomer... Shesofo LeHishame’a--do not say that I will listen to
it later: The Mishna is teaching us that if you can listen to a Devar Torah
now--do it immediately--and do not put it off until later.
C. Lo HaBaishan Lomeid--the shamefaced person does not learn: The
Mishna is teaching us that one who does not ask questions when learning
Halachos or other areas of Torah fulfils the words of Shlomo HaMelech in
Mishlei (30:32) VeIm Zamosa Yad LePeh--it will be as if he put his
hand in his mouth, and will know ‘kelum’-- nothing.
D. Ahl Tehi Rasha Bifnei Atzmecha--do not be wicked in your own
eyes. The Mishna is teaching that one should not do something which even in
a day or two will render a person a Rasha--in which he will say
Loma Asisi Resha Zeh--why did I do this?!
E. Ashrei Yoladeto--happy is his [Rebbe Yehoshua’s] mother. The
Yerushalmi teaches that when Rebbe Yehoshua’s mother was expecting with him
she went to the Batei Midrashos and asked the students to “Please daven
for this child that he become a chacham.” The davening worked. Hakhel
Note: It is said that a Rosh Yeshivah in the New York area has asked
interviewees to the Yeshiva during their farheir--Do you know how to
become a Talmid Chacham--and eventually answers-- Do you know how? You must
sincerely daven for it!
In this week’s Parasha of Kedoshim we find the fundamental prohibition
against Loshon Hara, as the Torah adjures “Lo Selech Rochil BeAmecha
–Do not be a gossiper among your people (Vayikra 19:16).The Sefer Sparks
of Mussar relates the following incident with HaRav Naftoli Amsterdam,
Z’tl, a great student of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, who served as a Rav
and Posek in various cities, including Moscow and St. Petersberg:
“A Jew once came before him, asking him for “the permission of one
hundred Rabbis” necessary to take a second wife without divorcing the first.
In the course of talking, the man spoke badly of his wife. R’ Naftoli
interrupted him and asked: “Have you already received the permission of a
hundred rabbis to violate the prohibition of Lashon Hara?”
Hakhel Note: There is a great lesson for us all here—there are many cases
when you certainly may feel that Lashon Hora is warranted or justified—and
that others will ‘expect you’ to speak Lashon Hara—before falling into the
trap—make sure that you have the heter of at least one Rabbi to relate it!
The phone number of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon
Shaila Hotline is
718-951-3696, and Poskim are available 9-10:30 pm New York time to
answer both the easy-- and the difficult –real life Shemiras HaLashon
questions that you may have.
IN RESPECT OF RESPECT:
In this week’s Parasha of Kedoshim, we also find the great Mitzvah of “Mipnei
Sayva Takum…” (Vayikra 19:32)--In the presence of an elderly person
shall you rise, and you shall honor the presence of a Sage....
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 244) rules that one must rise if a person
over the age of 70 (even if unlearned, but provided he/she is not wicked)
enters within your 4 amos (i.e., within 6-8 feet of you). One should remain
standing until he/she has passed from in front of you. Respect does not
only consist of rising, but also includes respectful words and a helping
hand (ibid. 244:7). Let us take a moment to reflect upon our diligence in
the performance of this Mitzvah as it may apply in our own homes, in the
homes of friends and relatives, in Shul, in doctor’s offices, and in the
various situations that may present themselves to us throughout the day.
Let us also thank Hashem for giving us the opportunity to be in their
presence (and having the opportunity to learn from them, if applicable)--and
making it a Mitzvah on top of that!
Additional Note: Some opinions hold that the minimum age to which respect
must be accorded is actually 60 and not 70.
TEACHINGS OF RABBI ZELIG PLISKIN, SHLITA: We present below several important notes
from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita on the Parasha
(citations and sources presented there have been omitted-please refer to
this wonderful Sefer directly for further detail):
1. Parashas Kedoshim begins with the
words “Daber El Kol Adas Bnei Yisrael--speak to the entire
congregation of Bnei Yisrael.” The Chasam Sofer comments that to attain
holiness one need not be isolated and withdrawn from the rest of society.
On the contrary, the Torah’s admonition here to be “Kedoshim--to be
holy--was especially stated in front of the entire congregation. A person
must learn how to sanctify himself by behaving properly amongst people!
2. ”Lo Sa’ashok” (Vayikra
19:13)--the prohibition of withholding money. In order not to be guilty of
withholding someone’s wages, or payments due to a worker, you should always
reach an agreement about payment before he begins doing the job. Failure to
decide on a price in advance usually leads to arguments later on, with the
results that both sides feel cheated. The Chofetz Chaim’s son wrote that
his father would not ask someone to do any work for him without first
reaching an agreement as to all the details of the job, including the
price. If for some reason they could not settle upon a price before hand,
the Chofetz Chaim would pay whatever the worker later requested.
3. “Lo Sikallel Chayreish” (Vayikra
19:14)--it is forbidden to curse even the deaf who are unable to hear the
curse, all the more so is it forbidden to curse people who are able to
hear. Saying to someone “G-d should punish you” is a violation of this
prohibition. Note that it is considered using G-d’s name even when the name
is not in Hebrew. Although using G-d’s name constitutes a more serious
offense, it is nonetheless forbidden to curse someone without using G-d’s
name as well. For example, it is forbidden to say “Drop d - - d” or the
like to someone.
4. “B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecho” (Vayikra
19:15)--you shall judge your fellow man with righteousness. In Yerushalayim,
there is a group that regularly discusses practical ways to judge people
favorably. A member of the group gives true-to-life situations, and
everyone else offers explanations that would present the person involved in
a favorable light. For instance:
I. You did not receive
an invitation to a wedding. Possibilities: A. Perhaps the person was
under the impression that he had already sent you an invitation B. Perhaps
he sent it to you and it was lost in the mail. C. Perhaps he cannot afford
to invite so many people.
II. You are standing in a
bus stop with a heavy load of packages, and a neighbor drives by in an empty
car and does not offer you a ride. Possibilities: A. Perhaps he was only
going a short distance. B. Perhaps he has already committed himself to pick
up some other people. C. Perhaps he has a problem that weighed on his mind
so heavily that he couldn’t think of anything else.
III. You are hoping someone
would invite you to his house, but he failed to do so. Possibilities:
A. Perhaps someone in his family is ill. B. Perhaps he is planning to be
away from home. C. Perhaps he did not have enough food in his house.
5. ”Lo Sisna es Achicha Bilevovecha”
(Vayikra 19:16)--you shall not hate your brother in your heart. The Chofetz
Chaim writes that if someone has embarrassed or humiliated you, you should
not hate him. Although he has committed a transgression, he has actually
rendered you a service--for when a person suffers humiliation in silence, it
atones for any sins he may have. The situation is analogous to that which
someone prepared a hot bath for you. Although it may cause you some pain,
it will also cleanse you. Keeping this thought in mind should prevent
feelings of hatred from arising. There is a proven method of changing
someone’s feelings of hatred towards you. You should consider him as if he
were righteous and treat him favorably. In a very short time, that person
will begin to like you. Ravid HaZahav interprets this verse, “You shall not
hate your brother BECAUSE of your heart.” You might have a warm heart and
do favors for others. Nevertheless, if your friend lacks this trait, do not
hate him for it.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT:
As we are instructed to be “Kedoshim” by our Parasha this Shabbos, let us
pay special attention to, and try to instill just a bit more additional
spirit of, Kedusha, in a real and tangible way…into tomorrow’s
CAMPAIGN TO SAY “GOOD MORNING” TO INCREASE ACHDUS:
someone greets his friend with a pleasant face…it is considered as if he
gave him all of the good presents in the world. (Avos D’Rav Nosson 13-4)
first to greet every person…by doing this all will love you and this is the
greatest success that you can attain in this world (Pirkei Avos, Chapter 4,
Mishna 15, Tiferes Yisrael)
further information, or obtain ‘business cards’ to hand out with this
information, please call
FROM THINK HASHEM DAILY:
“Life is the only test
can’t cheat on ;
own unique paper”
Hakhel Note: To subscribe to Think Hashem Daily email:
Yesterday, we remembered our innocent brothers who have fallen at the hands
of our enemies in Eretz Yisrael. With this in mind we note that in this
week’s Parasha, Parashas Kedoshim, the Torah teaches “Venikdashti Besoch
Bnei Yisrael” (Vayikra 22:32). HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita was asked
whether one makes a bracha before he is about to be put to death Ahl Kiddush
Hashem. HaRav Kanievsky responded that the Mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem
is “Mah SheHa’adam Muchan U’Moser Atzmo LaiHareig Al Kedushas Shemo
Yisbarach--one fulfills the Mitzvah if he is prepared to give his
life to sanctify Hashem’s name, even if in the end he is not killed.” He
continues that those who were killed by the Nazis Y’S or the Arabs Y’S, have
the Zechus of Kedoshim, but would not make a bracha prior to their being
murdered because they were killed against their will. May all of the
soldiers and civilians murdered continuously achieve new heights in Gan
Eden, and be Melitzei Yosher for all of K’lal Yisrael.
Upon request, we once again provide the following important note:
Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, is celebrated in some of our communities (in various ways),
and not celebrated in others. We all know the different approaches and
sentiments on the topic--and note that in the Third Beis Hamikdash described
by Yecheskel there will be 12 entrances, for there can be different
approaches to the one Avodah. What we may add is that however one does or
does not celebrate, observe or perform--it should be done in accordance with
the teachings of his ultimate Rav or Posek. There can be much
misinformation or misguidance, and a person can conduct himself based upon
what he believes to be correct, without further consultation--and this is
the part that is wrong. As a case in point, we may mention that HaRav Yosef
Ber Soloveitchik, Z’tl, Rav of Boston, and Rosh HaYeshiva of RIETS, was in
the Yeshiva on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut 5738 (1978)--one of the latter years of his
giving Shiurim in the Yeshiva. He davened Shacharis in the Morgenstern
dormitory minyan, which davened with Hallel. Later that morning, rather
than giving Shiur on Perek HaZahav (the 4th perek of Bava Metziah which was
being studied that Zeman in his Shiur), Rav Soloveitchik, obviously upset,
instead gave Shiur on the importance of keeping the Tzuras HaTefillah
intact. Shemone Esrei is followed by Chazaras Hashatz, which is followed by
Tachanun, and then followed by Ashrei and U’va Letzion--and we do not have
the right or privilege of changing that, he opined. Rav Soloveitchik
continued that if one wanted to express his personal gratitude or thanks to
HaKadosh Baruch Hu, he could recite the Chapters of Hallel in Tehillim
(Chapters 113-118), without a bracha after davening. Now, this is not to
say that Rav Soloveitchik had a different opinion in earlier years or in
later years (we do not know either way)--but it is to say that someone was
not following his Rebbe if he knew what his opinion was at that time--and
still recited Hallel in place of Tachanun in order to make his own personal
statement. On the other hand, if one’s final Halachic authority is the
Rabbanut, his practice would be different. This ruling will be different
than that of the Badatz-Yerushalayim. What does your ultimate Rabbinic
authority say? A person must look upwards for answers--not to himself,
downwards or sideways.
following is really true: A person collecting tzedaka on behalf of a
yeshiva in France, promoting Torah among more needy Sefardi families, was
asked by a potential donor whether his yeshiva said Hallel on Yom
Ha’Atzma’ut (we won’t reveal which way he wanted the answer to come out),
and the answer would be the determining factor as to whether he received a
donation. The collector gave the “wrong” answer and was promptly escorted
out empty-handed. Would any Rabbinic authority make this one question the
sole determining factor as to whether a Torah institution was to be
supported or helped, even minimally? We doubt it, but we suggest that if a
potential donor has this ‘dilemma’, he should ask a Shaila rather than allow
emotions or sentiments to override the Halacha one must follow as an Eved
Hashem--which, by definition, is always the right thing to do.
Note:: We are all in agreement that the Geulah Sheleima has not yet
come, and that the world would be a much better place if we could bring it.
We know for a fact that when Bnei Yisrael cried out to Hashem (Vayizaku),
that Hashem heard their cries (VaTa’al Shavassam), and ‘remembered’
the bris that he had made with our Avos (Shemos 2:23,24). As our Geulah
from Mitzraim is the pardigm of our future Geulah--may we suggest that we
begin to take the special effort to cry out to Hashem in the brachos of
Shemone Esrei relating to Geulah. This does not mean that one needs to
shout--but rather that his heart cries out--perhaps with an outstretched
hand during his tefillah, or with a look heavenward, with a tear, with a
sense of urgency and pleading--at least in one of the brachos such as
Tekah Beshofar, VeLirushalayim or Ess Tzemach. If you
really need something--you do more than you say that you need it--you do
something about it! Your newfound sincere striving, your special awakening,
will not only help yourself-- it will help take the Shechina out of tza’ar--as
it returns to VeLirushalayim Irecha--Your City--and it will
help cure all those who are spiritually, emotionally and physically ill, it
will bring everyone to their proper place in life...in short, you will be
able to accomplish more than all the wealthiest people and all of the heads
of state joined together cannot accomplish. Incredibly, all of this is
free--just for our sincerity and devotion during one of the most important
points of our day--the Shemone Esrei. Let’s begin to use this opportunity
in a new and special way--pouring out our hearts for the few brief moments
of a bracha, pleading with feeling, showing that we really want Geulah and
really need it--so that just as in Mitzraim the Torah records--VaTa’al
Shavosam...VaYayedah Elokim--and their cries went up and Hashem
knew...so too will Hashem look down and understand that our cries are true
and sincere--so that once and for all we can all come home--together with
Hashem--for good--and forever!
GUIDE TO DERECH ERETZ
As we are in the midst of the Sefirah period in which we are careful to
practice important Minhagim relating to the period, we remember that the
students of Rebbi Akiva were Niftar during this period for not according the
proper respect to each other. Accordingly, in order to work on improvement
in this area in this especially propitious period, we provide the second
part below of notes as excerpted from the outstanding and highly recommended
resource Guide To Derech Eretz by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal,
Shlita (Targum/Feldheim). Once again, even if one knows many or most of the
points below, and even feels that he is ‘pretty good’ with them, it is
essential that we not only know them or study them--but conscientiously
work on them as well:
11. Benefits of speaking gently:
A) Most individuals value the privilege of making choices and thereby
determine their course of action. For this reason, it is inherently
difficult for people to follow orders. A person who gives orders to others
must remember this fact and act accordingly. By speaking gently and
treating others with respect, one can rest assured that his directions will
be more closely cared for.
B) The need to speak to people in a kind and gentle manner is absolutely
essential when instructing an individual on how to perform a task with which
he is unfamiliar. When confronted with a new experience, most people adopt
a defensive attitude in a feeble attempt to hide their ignorance. If the
instructor’s tone of voice or manner of behavior makes the individual feel
threatened, the lesson has in effect come to a close--the capacity to
internalize information is seriously impaired by the individual’s need to
protect his self-image.
C) It is self-evident that an employee who is satisfied with his working
conditions is more productive than one who is dissatisfied. The
employer-worker relationship is one of the essential components of a
positive working environment. In light of these facts, an employer should
recognize the benefits of treating his employees with respect!
12. One must avoid causing embarrassment to others at all times, even when
learning Torah. The Midrash asks, “Why was his name ‘Doeg HaAdomi’?
Because he reddened Dovid Hamelech’s face during the study of Halacha” (Midrash
Tehillim 52:4). For this reason, the Talmud warns against asking a
rabbi a question if there is reason to suspect he will not know how to
answer. Similarly, the Talmud (Shabbos 3b) says, “When Rebbi is
studying this tractate, do not ask him a question regarding a different
tractate.” The posuk says, “...one who makes his way will see the
salvation of Hashem.” (Tehillim 50:23), that is, one who plans his ways, and
knows when to ask and when not to ask his questions will prosper (Moed
Katan 5b). The Talmud (Tosefta Sanhedrin, ch. 7) also warns
against asking a Sage a question immediately upon his entering the beis
midrash; one must allow him time to settle his thoughts.’
13. Chazal (Niddah 16b) bring the following teaching: “I hate three
[types of] individuals, and one of them is a person who enters his friend’s
house unexpectedly”. R. Yochanan’s opinion is that this law even applies to
a person who enters his own house unexpectedly.
14. “A man should not instill a feeling of excessive fear in his home” (Gittin
7a). The Talmud explains that instilling fear in one’s home may
eventually result in the transgression of a Torah precept (see ch. 12). For
this reason, a father should never frighten a child by saying, “I will
punish you by doing so and so to you.”
15. Concerning the mishnah, “Ayin ra’ah ...removes a person from the
world” (Avos 2:1b), Rabbeinu Yonah writes “There exists [the trait
of] ayin ra and [the trait of] ayin ra’ah. Ayin ra’ah refers
to a miserly person, while ayin ra refers to one who envies other
people’s possessions. His wish to own others’ possessions may harm them,
for the vision of the eye is capable of causing damage. Beyond this, he
also hurts himself-- his unfulfilled wishes cause him to burn with envy.”
Avos D’Rebbi Nasan (ch. 16) expands on this theme: As a man looks at his
own house and wishes that it remain standing, so too should he look at his
16. The Talmud dictates, “One who enters [another’s] house must follow
his host’s instructions” (Pesachim 86b). The Shulchan Aruch (Orach
Chaim 170:5) also decrees that a guest must follow the host’s
instructions without any objections. For example, one must sit wherever the
host decides. One must not object even if the host wishes to honor him.
Most halachic authorities agree, however, that a guest who feels satiated
is entitled to refuse to eat additional food even if the host insists, if
this will endanger his health. One may infer from this rule that if
additional eating does not pose a danger to the guest’s health, it would be
correct to comply with the host’s wish.
17. Rules Concerning Eating in a host’s Home:
A. Upon entering the host’s home, the guest should not request food or
drink; instead, he should wait until the host offers him food (Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chaim 170:13).
B. The most distinguished guest should be invited to wash his hands first
(Brachos 46, Orach Chaim 165:2).
C. The guest should wait until the host serves himself the first portion of
food before reaching for food.
D. If two guests sit at the same table and the host is not present, the more
distinguished of the two should serve himself first. A person who reaches
for food before a person greater than himself is considered a glutton. (Orach
Chaim 170: 12, Mishnah Berurah 28)
18. The Talmud (Kiddushin 40b) says that a person who eats in the
street, i.e., in a place where people would not normally eat, resembles a
dog-- an animal which lacks the quality of humility more than other animals.
So, too, a person who eats in public demonstrates his lack of humility. The
Talmud rules that a person who eats in public is disqualified from giving
testimony. Since he lacks the trait of self-effacement, he will not
hesitate to give false testimony and thereby risk public ridicule.
19. Entering and Exiting:
A. When two people enter a beis kenesses or beis midrash
together, the person of greater importance should go in first. When leaving
the beis kenesses, however, the person of least importance may leave
first, since there is no mitzvah to leave a beis kenesses. The
Birkei Yosef quotes the opinion of the gaonim who contend that
the person of greater importance should also exit first when leaving a
B. When entering a house, the baal habais should enter first. When
leaving the house, the guest should exit first (Masseches Derech Eretz,
ch. 4). When leaving a house owned by someone else, the person of
greater importance should leave first.
20. Additional Rules of Derech Eretz:
A. Rabbeinu Asher writes in Orchos Chaim, “A person should avoid
involving himself in another’s dispute. Eventually, they will reach
accommodation and you will still be involved in the argument.” Furthermore,
by becoming involved one will invariably make enemies.
B. When a person shares his misfortune with others, he should first say,
“It should never happen to you” . (Sanhedrin 104b,Based on Eichah
C. One should not praise a person excessively, since this may be
misinterpreted as empty flattery (Rashi, Eruvin 18b and Rashi,
D. A person who is received with undue honor is obligated to inform those
honoring him of their mistake. (Makkos 12b)
E. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 38b) rules that it is prohibited to respond
to a Jewish apostate under any circumstances. Similarly, one should not
answer a fool unless he asks a Torah-related question.
F. One should not enter someone’s house while the person is eating, since
people find it embarrassing to eat in the presence of others. (Tov
G. A wealthy person should not be miserly. This is inferred from the verse,
“Purchase food from them with silver...for Hashem your God has blessed you
with your handiwork” (Devarim 2:6). Rashi explains that in order to
acknowledge Hashem’s blessing, this verse instructs the Jewish people to
behave as wealthy people and not as poor people.
H. A man of average wealth should eat food of lesser quality than he is
capable of purchasing, clothe himself with garments in accordance with his
financial status, and honor his wife and children beyond his financial
capability (Chulin 94b).
LE’OSEH NIFLA’OS GEDOLOS!
Moving deeper into the springtime as Hashem’s creations bloom around us, we
dare not forget one of the great lessons of Pesach --Le’oseh Nifla’os
Gedolos Levado Ki L’Olam Chasdo--Who alone performs great wonders, for
His kindness endures forever (Tehillim 136:4). As we see the marvels
of the flowers blooming, the trees budding and the grass growing--we must
realize that it is not only the Ten Makkos, the Splitting of the Sea, the
Ananei Kavod and the Mon which were extraordinary miracles, but that which
we call ‘nature’ is most definitely extraordinary as well. The only real
difference between the Ten Makkos and the Splitting of the Sea--and the five
different shades of green on the bushes and trees in front of you--is that
the former are Nissim Geluyim, and the latter are Nissim Nistarim.
Let us take the time to marvel at Hashem’s world. Especially at this time of
year, as we see this wonder, that spectacle, and those phenomena, let us get
used to exclaiming with joy Le’oseh Nifla’os Gedolos Levado Ki L’Olam
Hakhel Note: HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, notes that the Chovos
HaLevavos first teaches the Sha’ar Habechina (the study of
Hashem’s wonders) and only then teaches the Sha’ar Avodas Elokim--because
we first have to appreciate Who Hashem is and what He does before we can
properly serve Him!
GUIDE TO DERECH ERETZ:
As we are in the midst of the Sefira period in which we are careful to
practice important Minhagim relating to the period, we remember that the
students of Rebbi Akiva were niftar during this period for not according the
proper respect to each other. Accordingly, in order to work on improvement
in this area in this especially propitious period, we provide the notes
below excerpted from the outstanding and highly recommended resource
Guide To Derech Eretz by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal (Targum/Feldheim).
Even if one knows many or most of the points below, and even feels that he
is ‘pretty good’ with them, it is essential that we not only know them or
study them--but conscientiously work on them as well:
1. Derech Eretz can be defined as a type of behavior that will be
acceptable by one’s society and which is geared towards making people
happy, as the Mishna [in this week’s Perek] states: “Which is the proper
path one should choose? One that is pleasing to the one who performs it and
is pleasing to others” (Avos 2:1)
2. The Maharal writes that one must offer greetings even to a willful
transgressor of sins--otherwise the sinner will wrongly conclude that the
Torah advocates scorning ignorant
people. This in effect profanes the name of Hashem.
3. Mesechta Derech Eretz describes the degree of humility one should
strive to achieve: ‘‘One should be as the threshold upon which everyone
treads, and as the peg which people use for hanging objects” (Derech
Eretz Zuta, ch. 1). What this really means is that one is obligated to
tolerate others--even if they do not consider him worthy of respect. The
Midrash adds, “Be lowly before everyone, especially before members of your
household.... Be as the threshold upon which everyone treads, for eventually
the house will collapse, but the threshold will remain untouched” (ibid. ch.
4. Tolerance leads to peace and to new friendships, and precludes anger.
“A pious man was once asked, ‘To what do you attribute people’s affection
for you?’ He answered, ‘Because I always consider other people to be better
‘” (Orchos Tzaddikim, Sha’ar Ha’anavah).
5. It is told that one of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter’s disciples once
complained to him that his efforts to do chessed for his wife were
not appreciated by her. R’ Yisrael responded, “Know that performing an act
that you think is beneficial for your wife, or giving her something that you
think she is lacking, is not yet considered chessed; rather, chessed
is the performance of an act that she considers beneficial, and the
giving of something that she feels she is lacking.”
6. One is obligated to do chessed for a person he dislikes before
doing so for a person he loves. It is questionable whether a person whom one
dislikes takes precedence over one’s relative (Ahavas Chessed, Sec.
1, Ch. 4).
7. It is stated in Mesechta Derech Eretz Zuta (ch. 5): “A person
should not be awake amongst those who are sleeping, nor sleeping amongst
those who are awake; cry amongst those who laugh, nor laugh amongst those
who cry; sit amongst those who stand, nor stand amongst those who sit. In
general, a person’s behavior should not be at variance with other people’s
behavior.” This idea is derived from Moshe Rabbeinu’s example, as R. Tanchum
Ben Chanilai said: ‘A person should not deviate from the custom--Moshe
ascended to the Heavens and he did not eat bread; the angels descended [to
visit Avraham Avinu] and they did eat bread’ (Bava Metzia 86b). This
concept has halachic ramifications. The Mishnah states: “In a city where the
custom is to work on Erev Pesach until noon
, work may be performed. In a city where the
custom is not to work, work may not be performed....But one should not
deviate from the local custom if this will lead to dispute” (Pesachim
50a). The reason for this ruling, that a visitor is obligated to preclude
dispute by conforming to local custom, is that people are not able to
tolerate ideas and customs different from their own, and such differences
can lead to dispute.
8. Chazal teach:
your friend as yourself’ is a general rule throughout Torah” (Yerushalmi
Nedarim 9:4). Through his love for others one will refrain from causing
them physical or emotional pain; in fact he will work for their benefit and
behave towards them with derech eretz. Orchos Tzaddikim writes
that it is possible to train oneself to feel love for people. This can be
achieved by fulfilling the following codes of behavior:
A) Speak gently. If someone embarrasses or misleads you, do not reciprocate.
B) Share other people’s burdens and refrain from increasing their suffering.
Never conduct heated arguments with others. Welcome everyone joyously and
with a friendly facial expression, since a friendly expression strengthens
bonds of love.
C) Soothe people who feel worried or angry.
D) Honor others, both verbally and through your actions. Never act in a
haughty manner with anyone; instead, yield to the will of others.
E) Refrain from passing judgment on others; instead, look for the merit in
other people’s actions.
F) Conduct all transactions honestly.
G) Strive to benefit others, not to benefit from others.
H) Extend help to others, both physically and monetarily. Refrain from
I) Avoid speaking in a derogatory manner about others, and refrain from
listening to others speak negatively about people.
Hakhel Note: Perhaps one can consider reviewing the above nine pointers
(A-I) at the beginning or end of his day--to motivate him or see how he
9. Although the obligation to carry on friendly relations with one’s
neighbor is great, one must not visit a neighbor too often, since overly
frequent visits will eventually cause the neighbor to dislike the visitor.
Concerning this idea, the verse says, “Let your foot be seldom in your
neighbor’s house, lest he will be weary of you and dislike you” (Mishlei
25:17). Rashi explains that just as eating an overabundance of honey makes
one feel like vomiting, so, too, frequent visits causes the host to revile
the visitor. Metzudos David writes that love between people increases
when they are absent from each other, whereas overly frequent visits have
the opposite effect.
10. From Moshe Rabbeinu, we learn how far Derech Eretz extends. Before
accepting upon himself the commandment to go to Mitzrayim and redeem the
Jewish people, Moshe Rabbeinu said to Hashem, “Master of the Universe! I
cannot fulfill Your commandment, since Yisro welcomed me and opened his door
to me, and I am as a son to him. A person who is shown hospitality is
eternally indebted to his host.” Thus, Moshe refused to embark on his
journey without first receiving Yisro’s permission. From this we learn that
one act of derech eretz takes precedence over the redemption of the
entire Jewish People!
WELCOME BACK AMIRAS TACHANUN!
After a month of not reciting Tachanun, let us recite these great words of
supplication--which incredibly include the words of AVINU MALKEINU
CHANEINU VA’ANEINU KI AIN BANU MA’ASIM--ASEH IMANU TZEDAKA
VACHESED V’HOSHIAINU (the last Avinu Malkeinu recited in the Aseres
Yemei teshuva and on Fast Days)--with a renewed intensity and
fervor--pleading with Hashem to shower us with his unlimited mercy--and the
Geulah Sheleima in our day!
FOR THOSE STUDYING DAF
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outstanding Sefer Praying with Meaning (Artscroll, Rabbi Heshy
Kleinman, Shlita’s latest publication), which proceeds through
Tefillas Shacharis in 89 powerful and practical daily lessons, provides the
teaching of the Avudraham, who writes that the Gematria of Modim is
100--representing the 100 daily brachos in which we should express our daily
thanks to Hashem!
Note: The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 127: 1), seif katan 5,
writes that “haolam nohagim” when responding to Modim D’Rabbanan in
Shemone Esrei to remain bowed throughout. The Chazon Ish, Z’tl and HaRav
Chaim Kanievsky, y’blcht, however, follow another minhag
mentioned in Shulchan Aruch which is to bow at the outset of Modim
D’Rabbanan, and at its end (Ahl She’anachnu Modim Lach…), but not
during the entire recital (ibid., Dirshu Note 7). Accordingly, one should
follow his Rav’s direction in this area.
WILL IT BE ACCEPTED?
In a publication containing the teachings of HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro,
Z’tl, it is reported that whenever HaRav Shapiro offered words of rebuke or
mussar, it would only be presented if it could be done in a way ‘Ki
Heichi Delekablu Minei’--so that the words of advice, guidance or
constructive criticism would be accepted by the party it was addressed to.
With this stated goal in mind, there would be no words of admonition or
instruction uttered in annoyance or anger, or containing bites of derision,
cynicism or sarcasm--for although these kinds of expressions could vent
frustration--they certainly would not be accepted by another....What a
simple and shining standard to use for words to help another –’Ki
Heichi Delekablu Minei’-- so that they truly accomplish their
The Sefer Tallelei Oros brings from the following “Eitzah Ne’emana”
(Trustworthy Advice) taught by the HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl in the Sefer
Ohr Yahel: “If one finds himself chas veshalom in a tzara,
he should take a neder to not satiate his desire in a particular manner
which is otherwise permissible to him, and with this he will be assured of a
having obtained a ‘zechus gadol’ to be saved ....” Hakhel Note: HaRav
Chasman is not requiring unrelenting abstinence--he is advising to select
something permissible and simply not satiate yourself with it--because
you--and not your Yetzer Hora--are in charge of your life!
ASEH TORASECHA KEVAH!
We learned this famous phrase in Pirkei Avos (1:15) last week. We
would typically understand it to mean that one should be ‘Kove’a Itim
LaTorah’. Rashi, on this Mishna, however, specifically writes that this
is not the meaning of these words. Rather, continues Rashi, Torah is to be
our keviyus the entire day--it is the keva--and
anything else we do the rest of the day are ‘inserts’ into our keviyus of
the day! What a powerful message!
MORE ON REFUAH IN IYAR:
Regarding the acronym of the word Iyar as ‘Ani Hashem Rofecha,’ we
received the following from a reader: “I also wanted to add that Rabbi
Zechariah Wallerstein always says that when the rain comes in Iyar, you open
your mouth and let it in, and just feel that Hashem is healing your whole
body. It is an amazing thing to do--I’ve been doing it every year since he
said it.” Hakhel Note One: If you choose to do this, you should consult
with your Rav as to if and when a Bracha may first be required. Hakhel Note
Two: It is interesting to note that Matzah is referred to as the healing
bread or healing food. One may therefore suggest that the reason we are not
commanded to eat Matzah the whole year (and forbidden to eat Chometz, as
part of our Kashrus observance) is because once we have taken medication and
been healed, there is no need to take the medication any further. However,
we do not then proceed directly into the rest of the year without anything
more--but are then especially treated to the special healing qualities
inherent within the month of Iyar! Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu--Oh
how great is our lot!
RULINGS FROM HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA, ON SEFIRAS HAOMER:
Is there a Mitzvah of Chinuch on counting Sefira as very often the children
will be asleep at night when you want to count with them?
For Chinuch purposes, one can count with them during Bein HaShemashos,
before they go to bed.
Should girls count with a Bracha?
The Mishna Berura rules they should not, lest they forget counting for a day
(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 489; seif katan 3). However, if there is a real
basis for reminding them nightly it is permitted for them to count with a
Bracha, as in the Steipeler’s home, the girls would make a Bracha, because
the Steipeler himself would remind them every night.
Can a barber stay open during Sefira for non-religious Jews if their
alternative would be to go to a barber who would use a razor?
It is not permissible, and it is not the religious barber’s responsibility
if they would violate other Issurim as a result of his not servicing them,
for if he does service them he himself would be violating a ‘lifnei iveir’
kind of aveira relating to Sefiras HaOmer.
The Aruch HaShulchan (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 492) brings from the Zohar
to Parashas Tetzaveh that the primary reason that we stand during Sefiras
HaOmer is because Sefiras HaOmer is comparable to Shemone Esrei itself(!).
We should realize the extraordinary importance of Sefira every night just
from the fact that the one-sentence count is surrounded in the Siddur by
prayers before and after (whether or not you actually recite them).
To inspire yourself here, do not allow yourself to count the Sefirah by
heart. Instead, read each and every word of the bracha and count from a
PARASHAS KEDOSHIM LESSON ONE:
Chazal teach: “Yofeh Shesika Lechachomim Kal Vechomer Letipshim--silence
is beautiful for the wise all the more so for the unwise.” As we
approach the Parasha of Kedoshim which contains so many Mitzvos relating to
proper speech, we should do so with an uplifted sense of our power of
speech--oh how it is important to use in many situations--and how important
it is to refrain from using in many situations. This is the perfect
time to practice circumspection and judiciousness in our speech,
particularly with people as to whom one has fallen prey to forbidden speech
within the past. In our times, we have newfound
modes of speech--email and texting. We should treat these new methods of
communication with the same level of care as the uttered word--for they also
truly express the inner makings (and hopefully, sanctity) of one’s self.
The Ona’as-Devarim free and Lashon Hara free
mode and the dignity, clarity, care and concern of the written word should
shine forth from one’s cell phone or computer. HaRav Chaim Friedlander,
Z’tl, taught many years ago relating to regular phones that ‘the party on
the other end should be able to feel and appreciate your warm smile!’ We
should be able to say the same for our texts and emails as well!
PARASHAS KEDOSHIM LESSON TWO:
Ben Ish Chai raises the following question. There are ten birds on a roof.
A hunter successfully traps four of the birds. How many birds are left on
the roof? In fact, the Ben Ish Chai writes, there will be four birds left
on the roof, because the other six would have flown away while the hunter
was trapping the other four. The analogy he draws is to money that a person
spends in this world. The money that is well-spent on Mitzvos and Ma’asim
Tovim flies nowhere--it will remain with the person forever and ever. On
the other hand, money improperly spent or squandered flies away and has no
everlasting--or even lasting--relationship with the person. Let us take the
Ben Ish Chai’s thought a step further. How could money which is appears to
be a purely material, Olam Hazeh kind of item be transported into Olam Haba?
HaRav Aaron Kotler, Z’tl, teaches that the “Kedoshim Ti’heyu”
required by this week’s Parasha is not the holiness of Malochim or of people
who separate themselves from others, but rather it is elevating the
materialism of Olam Hazeh to Kedusha of Olam Haba. Money, then,
becomes an invaluable resource--a source of Kedusha for our Olam Haba--all
based upon how we use it in this world. To some, money is a source of
evil. To others, it is a necessary evil. To us, however, it is and should
be a source of eternity. Every dollar for a Mitzvah, every check for
Tzedaka is a fulfillment of a Kedoshim Ti’heyu--which will last
As we begin the ninth month of the year 5776--we should realize that we
still have almost 40% of the year ahead of us for reaching new
heights in our kabbalos and in our personal growth. It’s a great day for
cheshbon hanefesh--after all, the glass is still more than one-third
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Very few dates are mentioned in the Chamisha Chumshei Torah--but today is
one of them! Where is today’s date mentioned in the Torah? Why is the date
specifically mentioned in that Parasha and context?
CONNECTION TO THE BINYAN BEIS HAMIKDASH!
Chodesh Iyar is very much related to the Binyan Bais Hamikdash. The
Luach Dovor B’Ito brings that Shlomo HaMelech began the building of the
First Bais HaMikdash today, and that construction of the foundation
of the Second Bais HaMikdash also began today as well (See Ezra
3:8-13). Let us now daven that today also prove to serve a role in the
building of the Third and Lasting Bais HaMikdash. Even if we see
nothing immediately around us or in front of us, and even if we hear no
shofar blast at this moment, let our acts of Teshuva today serve as a
cornerstone for its Building. Why leave the building to someone else
when each and every one of us is so eminently capable?! Let’s also begin
building Today--it’s for Eternity!
Note: One of the actions that we will take in the Bais HaMikdash that we
are not very used to doing now is Hishtachava’ah--prostrating oneself
to the ground. Undoubtedly, this Hishtachava’ah will come in direct
response to the intense Kedushah and Ruchniyus experienced upon entering and
viewing the Kohanim and the Avodah. Yet, in the Tefillah of Nishmas we do
recite in the here and now--VeChol Koma Lefonecha Sishtachaveh--and every
person standing up shall prostrate himself before You. How can/do we
fulfill this statement? The Chassidic masters teach the following: Even
when one is ostensibly standing straight, he should feel inwardly
as if he is bowed before Hashem--in recognition of Hashem’s greatness
and mastery and one’s own humility--something that every person should
recognize and appreciate--even without a Bais HaMikdash. We may add that
even when reciting the words VaAnachnu Koriim U’Mishtachavim in
Aleinu three times daily, we should experience the moment--envisioning
ourselves in an aura of submission and sanctity--so that we properly reflect
the words that we are expressing. In this merit--may we live to experience
the ultimate Hishtachava’ah speedily and in our days!
The Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim (page 251) writes that our new month of
Iyar is tried and tested as a time for refuah, healing, from the ailments
and pains that may affect a person. Why is this so? The B’nai Yissaschar,
who teaches that most weakness and illness come from foods which do not
comport with the person’s nature or composition. The Rambam (Hilchos De’os
4:15) writes likewise. See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter 32.
Since the Mon began to fall in this month (on the 16th day of
Iyar 2448)--and it was a perfect food from which resulted no sickness, pain
or even waste matter (as Dovid HaMelech refers to it in Sefer Tehillim--”Lechem
Abirim”) and even cured those who were ill--Hashem left the curative
nature of the month in effect even through today. Accordingly, Iyar is a
time of “segulah l’refuah”. In fact, the Ta’amei HaMinhagim notes,
the name “Iyar” is an acronym for Ani Hashem Rofecha--I am Hashem,
can we do to help promote the curative effects of this special time as
initiated by the heavenly Mon? Let us reflect upon the following. The
Baalei Mussar note that one afflicted with Tzora’as does not ask others
directly to pray for him--rather, as we learn in this week’s Parasha “VeTameh
Tameh Yikrah”--he only exclaims that he is “Tameh”, and those who hear
him are expected to pray sincerely for him even without his direct
request--and notwithstanding that he has sinned to such a great extent that
Hashem has actually made him a Metzora. What a great lesson we can learn at
this time of year--which is so special for healing, and, moreover, the Omer
period, in which our “Bein Odom L’Chavero” is to be seriously
improved upon. We should not wait to be asked, or merely be responsive to
the request of others, when we hear that someone is not well. Instead, we
should “hear the cry” and go out of our way during this auspicious time to
daven for those we may not even know, but whom we have heard are in need of
a Refuah. An ounce of Tefillah may mean a kilogram of cure.
During this special month, recite a daily special, sincere Kepitel (chapter)
of Tehillim for your list of cholim--recognizing that this is a special time
for the potency--and importance--of your heartfelt Tefillah!
A reader wrote the following to us: Rabbi Nachman of
Breslov writes that the word IYAR is Roshei Taivos of the words ”Oyvai
Yoshuvu Yaivoshu Roga,” thus indicating that the month of IYAR is conducive
see a Mapala for the enemies of K’lal Yisrael!” Hakhel Note: When reciting
Tachanun during this month we should have especial Kavannah when reciting
these words--that they come to immediate reality!
PRAYING WITH FIRE 2 READER:
In a related vein to our concept of refuah, we received the
following: “I just wanted to share with you one of the many, many things I
learned from this incredible Sefer. It taught me that when I have a headache
–my first reaction should not be—where is the Tylenol, so that I can take
two Extra Strengths and it will go away. I really had always thought that
that was the right reaction. No, the RIGHT REACTION is “Hashem you gave me
the headache--I acknowledge that (do teshuva for something, if necessary),
and then daven to Hashem that the headache go away. Then--take the
Tylenol--and remember that it is not the Tylenol taking away the
headache--it is Hashem, and the Tylenol is his shaliach through the teva,
through nature and cures he has provide to us in this world.”
READER--NEW ROUND OF MIDDOS CHALLENGES - STARTING THIS WEEK!
“A new round of Middos Challenges will be starting this week, focusing on
how to develop deeper Bitachon in Hashem. Every week, you will receive a
brief insight into bitachon, creativity challenges, and Torah
questions to help integrate the middah into your daily life. Participants
can earn points by completing the challenges each week, and the winners at
the end of each month receive a prize. Perfect for family discussions at
your Shabbos table! To sign up click
here. To see past emails click
here. For more information, email MiddosChallenges@gmail.com.”
Hakhel Note: Perhaps the greatest lesson of the month of Nissan is Emunah--acknowledging
Hashem’s omniscience, omnipotence and Hashgacha Pratis--and putting our
lives and everything about us in Hashem’s sacred trust. Succinctly stated--’Ain
Od Milevado--He is the Source of Everything’. As a starting point, to
reinforce this most basic of our beliefs, and to carry that special feeling
of the month of Nissan with you throughout the year, may we add that you
recite every morning--or at least once a week--the Segula Nifla’ah [“The
Wondrous Segula”]--as written by none other than HaRav Chaim Volozhiner,
Z’tl in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim--which we provide by the following link
move closer to Kabbalas HaTorah, we are reminded of the teaching of HaRav
Shimshon Dovid Pincus, z’tl: Why is it that each Mesechta begins on Daf Bais—what
happened to Daf Aleph?! Rabbi Pincus answers that this is to remind us that
we must first ‘open our eyes’ and consider what we are about to
learn—something holy, something special, something passed on for more than
3,300 years, something eternal, something that is life-giving—both in this
world and in the next. Could there be anything more worthwhile, more
essential, more privileged, more exhilarating—perhaps we should hum or sing
“Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu” at least once a day before learning!
READER ON THE ‘ZUGOS’ OF REBBI AKIVA:
“Chazal relate: ‘Shnaim Asar Elef Zugos Talmidim Haya Lo L’Rebbi Akiva
V’lo Nohagu Kavod Zeh Bazeh--Rebbi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of students
who did not conduct themselves respectfully with each other.’ Why do Chazal
say that Rebbe Akiva had 2 times 12,000 talmidim? Why not just say that he
had 24,000 students that were not respectful to each other?? The
answer may be that, of course, when they were all together in the dining
room and one asked the other to pass the Corn Flakes, or when saying “Good
Morning or “Good Night”, they were all very gracious and answered with a
smile. But that’s not where the true test was. The test presents itself
when two chavrusos sit down for hours together and one comes up with a good
“Kashe--question” or a “S’vorah--line of reasoning” that is enlightening--is
it accepted graciously? When one pours out his heart to the other about a
difficult situation that he is going through is the other empathetic--or is
his mind elsewhere? The same is true in relationships between spouses,
siblings, etc. Chazal here are not referring to dealings by and among
acquaintances. They are referring to the close relationships between “Zugos”,
people close to each other, those we perhaps take for granted. That’s the
true test of “Noheg Kovod Zeh Bazeh”.”
Note: There are now only approximately five (5) weeks left to the Omer…try
to apply this lesson every day until Shavuos!
OWN PERSONAL HAKARAS HATOV INITIATIVE:
you don’t receive the thanks and appreciation for something that you believe
you deserve--what is a possible message or lesson for you?
YOU MADE YOUR LIST YET OF LESSONS FROM PESACH--and
how you will implement at least some of them in your daily life? If not
now--when--don’t just go through Pesach--make Pesach go through you!
this vein, we provide the following final post-Pesach practical daily
Recite Birchos HaShachar with enthusiasm [Heard from Rabbi Yosef
When reciting the word Halelukah in Shacharis--feel the word, and
appreciate all that Hashem does for you--and that you are able to thank Him
When reciting Borei Nefashos, have in mind not that it is an ‘easy, quick
bracha’--but that it is a bracha which concisely thanks Hashem for the
specific food or drink that you have just partaken of, and recognizes
further that He blesses you with an overabundance--even more than what you
need! (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 207, Mishna Berurah Seif Katan 5)
When reciting Ahl HaMichya--recognize that you are uniquely davening Ahl
Mizbechecha--for the Mizbei’ach to be rebuilt--something that is not
even mentioned in Birchas HaMazon! Focus!
Think about ‘Chatzos HaLailah’--just one moment in time changed the
history of the world, and consider that when this happens again, speedily
and in our day--it will be forever and ever! Will it be this moment--will it
be the next? Be alert, be ready! The Chasam Sofer notes that there are six
Leshonos of Geulah in the Torah at the outset of Parashas Va’eirah. We have
already experienced five--Vehotzeisi, VeHitzalti, VeGa’alti, VeLakachti
and VeHeiveisi, and we accordingly have five cups (including the Kos
Shel Eliyahu) at the Seder. The sixth Lashon--VeNasati Lachem Morasha--and
I will give you Eretz Yisrael as a final and everlasting inheritance--is yet
to come. Oh, how we must yearn for the sixth cup!
Consider a Hashgacha Pratis calendar--where the clear events of how you
found that item, met that person, went there and not there, ate this food
and not that--ranging from the greatly significant to seemingly
insignificant incidents have been clearly guided by Hashem. Of course, one
cannot spend his entire day on this, but can certainly jot down a few times
during the day when he realizes that Hashem is together with him in a clear
and open way!
Finally, Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (81:11): “Anochi Hashem
Elokecha Hama’alcha Mei’Eretz Mitzrayim Harchev Picha V’amalei’hu--I am
Hashem Who elevated you from the land of Eygpt--open your mouth wide and I
will fill it.” The Targum on this Pasuk explains that we are to open our
mouth wide in prayer to Hashem. We are not limited to the times of Tefillah
to be Marchiv Peh--even in a moment of privacy in one’s home, while
walking somewhere, or in Shul before and after davening--open your
mouth wide--and may Hashem fill it!
Today, the 28th day of Nissan, marks the day that Yericho fell to
the Hakafos and Shofar blasts (and not to the military prowess) of B’nei
Yisrael. It was none other than Yehoshua Bin Nun who composed Aleinu at
that time in recognition of Hashem’s Omnipotence--and the thanks that we owe
Him for our position in this world! According to the Sefer Chareidim,
as brought in the Siddur Rashban, Aleinu was actually recited forwards and
then backwards by Yehoshua and Bnei Yisrael, and this was the final blow
that caused the walls to fall in. This Tefillah is so crucial to us that we
recite it at the end of each of our daily prayers, and it is the essence of
our Tefillos on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (where we additionally
genuflect). The Rema in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 132:2) writes that we
should be careful to recite Aleinu with Kavanah each day.
It is certainly no coincidence--as it never is--that Aleinu was composed so
soon after Pesach, as it reflects so many of the lessons to be gleaned from
those special days---Thanks to Hashem for choosing us as his People;
Awareness of Hashem not only as Creator but in Hashgacha Pratis on a daily
basis; Ain Od Milevado…and our longing and prayer for the final
Geulah. If you started today to daven Aleinu only from a Siddur, or to be
sure to have special Kavannah when reciting it for all of the essential
yesodos of Emunah it contains (actually found in the plain meaning of the
words), or to make sure that it takes you at least a minute to recite
because you are not swallowing the words and you are paying attention to
them, bowing down more properly or with thought…or any other improvement (if
you have already done any or all of the above)—then you will always remember
the anniversary of your improvement—the anniversary of Aleinu!
WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES.
A. As noted in the past, the following point is made in the wonderful
work “Shabbos in My Soul--70 Powerful Lessons to Illuminate the
Shabbos Experience” by Rabbi Boruch Leff, Shlita : “U’sefartem Lachem
Mimacharas HaShabbos, Miyom Haviachem Es Omer Hatenufah Sheva Shabbasos
Temimos Tehiyena--you should count for yourselves from after Shabbos
[referring here to Pesach], from the day when you bring the offering of the
Omer waving, it should be seven complete weeks.” In counting the Omer we
are counting towards Matan Torah and, in doing so, readying ourselves for
Shavuos. We prepare ourselves by purifying and perfecting our spiritual
lives, especially our Middos and Derech Eretz. Thus, when we count, we are
supposed to be tallying up our growth, day by day. The Nesivos Shalom
says that the day that is designated for the most powerful growth that can
be achieved during Sefiras Ha’omer is Shabbos. The Pasuk indicates this:
“Sheva Shabbasos Temimos Tehiyena.” It is only when Shabbos is
temimah, when Shabbos is
observed and experienced with a potent ruchnius, purity, and spiritual
growth, that we can truly develop ourselves properly during this period.
The way to utilize the potential of Sefiras Ha’omer is to make sure our
Shabbos days are filled with kedushah.
are bidden by the Torah to make our Shabbosos temimos, perfect and whole.
Let us not squander the opportunity.”
It is a custom of many on the Shabbos following Pesach to have a “Shlissel
Challah” or “Key Challah”.
advised that some Chassidic masters in fact waited until Shabbos before they
consumed Chometz after Pesach. The Shlissel Challah would be their
first Chometz! What is the concept of Shlissel Challah? In
The Book of Our Heritage (the excellent English translation of the
Sefer HaToda’ah), Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, writes as follows: “In some
communities, it is customary for the Shabbos on which we announce the
approaching month of Iyar that sesame seeds are sprinkled on the top of
Challahs in the shape of a key. This serves as a reminder of the Mon
that began to fall from heaven in Iyar, as well as reminder that the key to
our sustenance is in Hashem’s Hand.” The Sefer
Ta’maei Dinim U’Minhagim writes that this is related to the words in
Shir HaShirim that we recited over Pesach “Pischu Li Achosi Rayasi--open
the gates of love and parnassah for us.” On Pesach we have been judged for
our Tevuah--our Parnassah--and with the Shlissel Challah we demonstrate
affirmatively and conclusively that we recognize that the key to every bite
of our bread is absolutely and exclusively in Hashem’s most caring of hands!
During these very days--immediately after Pesach in the Midbar--the Bnei
Yisrael received the Mitzvah of Shabbos while encamped at Marah. The Levush
(Orach Chaim 487:1) writes that we accepted the Mitzvah of Shabbos in all of
its detail with love, and that is why the word “BeAhava” is especially
related to Shabbos. The Sefer Bris Olam by HaRav Binyomin Zilber,
Z’tl, provides the following potent words of Chazal relating to one who is
a. Hashem will listen to his prayers (Midrash Tehillim, Chapter 16)
He tastes 1/60th of the taste of Olam Habah (Bereishis Rabba,
He is Zoche to Yiras Hashem (Yevamos 96)
He will receive a double reward for his efforts--one for Kavod and one for
Oneg (Medrash Tehillim, Chapter 93).
Hakadosh Baruch Hu longs for him, does his bidding, and he is considered as
someone who is worthy to testify before Hashem! (Medrash Tanchum to Parashas
Re’ai and Mechilta to Parashas Yisro)
Let us take the propitious time we are in--the very time in which we
initially accepted the Mitzvah of Shabbos as a nation-- and use it to
strengthen our personal Shabbos observance in some way. After all--how many
opportunities do you have to enjoy a taste of Olam Haba here and now!
There is a famous story told of a man who had obviously grievously sinned
and had come to Rav Shach, Z’tl, a few hours before Shabbos. The man was
sobbing uncontrollably and could barely eke out the following words, “How
will I ever be forgiven?” However, because of his uncontrollable sobbing,
he was not able to express to Rav Shach what his sin was, so that Rav Shach
could not give him advice. After an extended period, Rav Shach advised him
to go home, get some rest and come back to see him again on Motzei Shabbos.
The man did so, and on Motzei Shabbos, came in to Rav Shach, and sat down
calmly, explaining to Rav Shach the aveira he had done. After Rav Shach
gave him his advice, the man left. Commenting on this incident, Rav Shach
noted how “sleeping on it” could cause a person to forget all of the
feelings and emotions within him. He surmised from this that Teshuvah must
be done immediately upon recognition of an aveira, and advised his students
not to sleep on an aveira without doing Teshuvah. We can derive a similar
lesson from this with regard to any of the strong positive feelings we had
over the Pesach holiday. We should not let them get away over this
weekend. Instead, we should reflect upon (and take some positive action
which could maintain) the highpoints, the gained Emunah, the simcha, the
thanks, and should try to remember any of the events or Divrei Torah that
elevated us--so that they do not escape us during the coming days, weeks and
months. It might pay to review your feelings and experiences with your
family or friends at the Shabbos table or at any other time, as one person’s
reflections often assist another to grow in their own personal way, as well.
BEGIN PIRKEI AVOS:
Shabbos we will commence the recitation of Mesechta Avos--commonly known to
us as “Pirkei Avos”. HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, at the outset of the
Sefer Ruach Chaim, writes that we begin each Perek with the words of
the Mishna (Sanhedrin 90A) “Kol Yisrael Yesh LaHem Chelek LaOlam
Habba--all of K’lal Yisrael has a share in the World-to-Come”. The
Tanna uses the phrase LaOlam Habba, rather than BaOlam Habba
in order to teach us that Olam Habba is not a future world--but a
world that is built in the here and now by the Mitzvos that a person
performs. One really does exist in Olam Habba in this world--it is just the
physical elements of Olam Hazeh that prevent him from realizing its
presence. HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in fact, brings the words of the
Zohar (1:265A), which explains that Olam Habba means Olam Shekevar Bah--a
world that has already come! Thus, just as a Ben Yeshiva is
someone who is in a particular Yeshiva, a Ben Olam Habba, is someone who is
already rooted in Olam Habba! HaRav Friedlander also explains that the
reward for a Mitzvah is ‘Ruchni Tahor’--total Ruchniyus, and that
accordingly we cannot get reward in the physical world of Olam Hazeh for
Mitzvos. Whenever the Torah or Chazal describe sechar or reward in
this world, what it really means is that we are being granted additional
means to learn more Torah and perform more Mitzvos in Olam Hazeh--and
that the actual reward for any and all Mitzvos will be exclusively in Olam
Habba. The mashal given is to a very wealthy individual who owns a
huge and profitable factory. He will put on workers clothes in the factory
and not be distinguished from the other workers there as the products are
being produced--but will reap all of the profits in his finely tailored
clothing when the products are finally produced, distributed and sold.
PARASHA VERSUS THE WESTERN WORLD:
important to note that of the Mitzvos in this week’s Parasha of Acharei Mos-
many relate to Arayos—forbidden relationships and immorality. As always, we
must take the lesson from the Parasha as we live through it, and bolster our
care in the fundamental area care from the Arayos plays in a Jew’s
life--especially as the warmer weather comes upon us, and the populations
around us act with increased prurience. The western world incredibly
considers some of the Arayos as ‘victimless’ crimes. We, on the other hand,
believe that not only are the participants and those who encourage them at
fault, but that the degenerate mores impact horrendously on the world at
large. We need go no further than the Pasuk “Ki Hishchis Kol Bassar
EsDarko Al Ha’Aretz”—for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth
(Bereishis 6:12), and the literal destruction of the world at the time of
the Flood that resulted in its aftermath. We must do something to distance
ourselves far, far, far away from this behavior. Each of us (man and woman,
young and old, city worker and chareidi neighborhood dweller) can do
something to improve his/her situation in this regard—to bring a greater,
tangible Kedusha into one’s life. It is now less than 40 days to Matan
Torah—in which the Kedusha from on High—the Torah-- was brought down to this
world for transmission to us all in each generation. Let us make ourselves
eminently worthy of it—not only by contemplation and reflection—but in deed
and in restraint.
As we leave the month of Nissan on Sunday night, we provide an outstanding
observation by Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita regarding the Pesach
Seder--which is truly a bold and important lesson for daily living the rest
of the year. The Seder teaches us that there is a seder, an order, to
things. If we follow the Seder as we should, then in the end everything is
Nirzah--accepted.. and we sing into the night. However, not everything
starts out happy--we begin as slaves, and we experience shame and
degradation, physically and spiritually. We even eat a portion of Marror.
But, if we do what we are supposed to--we will be zoche to a special Yom Tov
Shulchan Orech and its joy-filled aftermath. Olam Hazeh is not meant to be
a fountain of delight or a wellspring of contentment. It is meant to be a
place where we learn our lessons and grow from them--where we shape our
lives for eternity. Success begins and is measured through effort,
dedication, commitment and strength of character. The bitterness may be
there in different ways--as pure marror, sandwiched with something else (korech),
and will have some charoses to take out some of the sting...but, we must
recognize and believe that all of this is only a purification agent that is
needed for only a short period of time--it is as transitory as a passing
thunderstorm in light of the permanent sunshine of Olam Haba that will
succeed it. During the rest of the year we go straight to Shulchan Orech--but
we should not be fooled. It is the order of the Seder night which puts our
lives into perspective. You may have a lot of questions to ask through the
course of Galus night --but if you follow through the order and succeed to
conclusion--you are guaranteed to come out singing--and with all of the
BEGIN THE MONTH OF IYAR:
move towards Kabbalas HaTorah, we provide the following enlightening words
of Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Mishlei 4):
are 248 Mitzvos Aseh in the Torah and 248 limbs of the body—for each limb
reminds and cries out to the person ‘Perform the Mitzvah-so that you will
live in its merit, and also merit length of days, There are 365 Mitzvos Lo
Sa’aseh in the Torah corresponding to the 365 days of the solar year—for
each day from the time the sun rises and until it sets, it reminds us and
cries out—I direct you not to do an aveira today, which could tip the scales
against me and the whole world chas veshalom to chovah—in the wrong
take an important moment now to look at our hands, our arms, our legs—they
are Hashem’s messengers to us reminding us to stay focused, do right, and
keep the world going. Every so often we should gaze at these Chofetz Chaim’s
of which we are composed—reminding us to fulfill our mission in life—raising
ourselves, and raising the world with us.
we can look at the sun for a brief moment or even at the light it sheds—it
is talking to us--communicating essential, life-bearing advice--Please,
Please, no -- don’t go there…don’t say that…close your eyes and don’t look…
don’t hurt that person with what you are about to do….If you squint when you
are outside on a sunny day, it is not a coincidence—it is merely a stronger
has blessed us with reminders within us and around us—they are like alarm
clocks gently sounding for us throughout the day— and they will only be
ineffective if we turn them off. Incredibly, when we heed their message and
do this Mitzvas Aseh here, and avoid that Lo Sa’aseh there—when we
throughout the day consciously use Hashem’s gifts for Chazal’s stated and
noteworthy purpose, we bring not only life and length of days to ourselves
in this world and the next—but life to the entire world as well —for which
the sun and the rest of Ma’aseh Bereishis will be so thankful!
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!
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for Rocket Loans “Fast, Powerful and Completely Online”. As we understand
it, Rocket Loans is a product of Quicken Loans, which has very substantial
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serious ribbis issues may be involved. If you can spread the word in your
Shul and community you will be saving others from possible tza’ar and
financial loss incurred in attempting to rectify what has been done.
UPDATED HAKHEL GEMACH LIST!:
5776 Hakhel Gemilas Chesed List, which provides contact information for
hundreds of Chasodim in the New York Metropolitan area (with special
sections for Queens, the Five Towns, Crown Heights, Monsey and Lakewood), is
now available on the home page of
website-- www.hakhel.info or by the following link
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LIST IS FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY and cannot be
reprinted or reproduced for any other reason, whether as part of a tzedaka
or commercial venture or otherwise, without the express written consent of
Hakhel, which will be given only on a case-by-case basis. For further
information, please call:
A DAILY REMINDER:
By the following link
http://tinyurl.com/jqvwkuv, we provide “From the Letters of the Chazon
Ish, which one may want to recite daily at the outset of his day, or perhaps
at the outset of his work day. This is a powerful message which we need to
be constantly reminded of.”
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Sefiras HaOmer recited in Ma’ariv between Shemone Esrei and Aleinu
(in most communities)? After all, what does the counting of Sefira have to
do with our structure of Tefillas Ma’ariv?
QUESTION AND ANSWER OF THE DAY:
We recently changed reciting the words “V’Sein Tal U’Matar Levracha”
to the words “V’sein Bracha”. What Kavannah are we to have in mind
when saying the words “V’sein Bracha”? The Kuntres Avodas
HaTefillah explains that we are asking for Ribui Tova V’Hatzlacha--for
Hashem to shower goodness and success upon us. Although we are no longer
asking for the rain--we are still asking for the shower! Picture it as you
recite these words. Remember, it is not just lip service or even simply an
element of belief--Hashem’s bracha in all areas is tangible and real!
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
From the remarkable, must-go-through Sefer The Power of Teshuvah,
by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (Artscroll, p. 233): “‘I can’t help
it. That’s just the way I am.’ Everyone has either said these words, heard
them, or both. Nevertheless, Rav Avraham Pam, Z’tl, would often paraphrase
the Rambam’s rebuttal of this justification with the words, ‘It’s not
your nature, it’s your choice!’”
HARAV MILLER’S YAHRZEIT:
is the fifteenth Yahrzeit of the legendary and incomparable HaRav Avigdor
Miller, Z’tl, so much of whose life was dedicated to helping the lives of
others become accomplished and complete. We provide below three separate
examples of his teachings on personal brachos and tefillos, as originally
brought by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita in Rabbi Avigdor Miller
Speaks (Volume 1, pp. 227, 234--Artscroll), and as highlighted in the
masterful work Praying With Fire 2 by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita
a customer walks in, say a quick Tefillah that the customer should buy your
merchandise and pay the right price and not complain…HaKadosh Baruch Hu will
say: “I see you trusting in Me, as the Pasuk states “Blessed is the man who
puts his trust in Hashem, and, therefore, Hashem will reward him by becoming
are going to see a customer [at his place of business], before you walk in
say “Yehi Ratzon Milefanecha She’tatzlicheni—Hashem, please make me
Note: Of course, one should analogize to his everyday situations relating to
projects, meeting with superiors at work, shopping, eating Kosher,
dating,…everything in life!
Even where Tefillas HaDerech is not required, if you are starting up your
car, ask Hashem without making a bracha for safety and everything else you
need on the way… “Believe me—in town you need a lot of help from Hashem!”
“Good Morning” is not merely a trite phrase or pleasantry. Good morning
means that they should have a good breakfast, that they should earn a good
living, no colds today, no trouble in business. Good Morning means
Note: Imagine the meaning and power of a sincere “Have a Good Day!”
you Rabbi Miller for such truly essential daily guidance! May we each be
blessed with the sechel to implement it!
PRACTICAL LESSONS FROM PESACH--PART 4
A. It is interesting to note that while the Korban Pesach in Mitzrayim was
eaten Bechipazon, in haste, the Navi (Yeshaya 52:12) teaches us that
our final Geulah will not be in haste: “Ki Lo VeChipazon Teitseiu
U’Vemnusa Lo Seileichu…you will not leave in chaos, nor will you go in
flight; for Hashem will go before you….” With this, we may understand why
Bechipazon is one of the key differences between the Seder in
Mitzrayim and the Seder of all future generations after Yetzias Mitzrayim--as
the Mishna (Pesachim 9:4) teaches us--the Korban Pesach in Mitzrayim was
eaten in haste (in a ‘ready-to-go’ mode), while the Pesach of all future
generations did not have this requirement. The explanation may be that all
future Pesachim are also attached to the final Geulah which, as the Navi
teaches will not be Bechipazon. Remember--even if we don’t sense any
particular Chipazon now, we don’t have to--Pisom Yavo, our
Geulah can come at any time!
B. Many of the Mitzvos on the Leil HaSeder come in pairs. For instance,
one of the answers given to the question as to “Why do we drink four cups
tonight” not being part of the Mah Neshtana, is because each one of
the four Kosos is simply associated with another Mitzvah of the
evening. Similarly, the bracha of Borei Pri Ha’adama over Karpas
is also (possibly) the bracha over the Maror. When we recite
Maggid, the Matzah and Maror must also be before us. Motzi Matzah
is a stage in which we fulfill both the Mitzvah of Lechem Mishna and that of
Achilas Matzah. If we carefully focus, we will realize that Hashem, in His
Great Graciousness to us packages and bundles Mitzvos to us together
in order to give us more and more zechusim and more and more opportunities
to develop our relationship with Him within a finite life span in this
world. All we have to do is be careful to recognize and appreciate each and
every one of them--just as the Jews in Mitzrayim were to appreciate that
they were blessed with six babies at once--and not only one. The idea is to
think through the Mitzvos as we perform them--and if we do, we will realize
that what appears to be one Mitzvah may not be just one large treasure
chest--but really a number of individual, perfectly minted gold coins and
C. The Chasam Sofer (Drashos Chasam Sofer II, p. 536) notes that
every Song, every Shir, that has significance is composed in response
to a particular event. The Shiras HaYam was, of course, composed in
reaction to the miracles at the sea. Likewise, the Shira at the Be’air (Bamidbar
21:17) was sung in appreciation of the well spring that the Bnei Yisrael
were graced with in the Midbar. This being the case, why did Shlomo
HaMelech compose Shir HaShirim? The Chasam Sofer answers that this
Song is an outpouring of expression to Hashem for choosing us as His
nation. Rebbi Akiva describes it is Kodesh Kodashim--holy of holies, and
this may be because it is the ‘anthem’ of the holiest of nations. When we
recite it, it should accordingly be with the greatest of joy! Hakhel Note:
We can now possibly understand why there is a Segulah associated with
reciting Shir HaShirim 40 days in a row--What greater sign can there
be of our appreciating that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has chosen us as His
nation--than bursting out in song in response!
we come close to concluding this month of Geulah, and move towards the
Geulah of Shavuos (which is the fourth Kos of Velakachti), we recall
the words of Rashi on an essential Pasuk that we may recite several times
daily: “Yimloch Hashem LeOlam Elokaich Tzion LeDor VaDor Haleluka”
(Tehillim 146: 10). There, Rashi comments “Yekayem Es Malchuso
BeShemiras Bonov.” Hashem views His Kingship in terms of us. If
we are guarded and protected, if we are happy, if we are successful, then
His Kingship is also successful and established. When we are downtrodden
and forlorn, Hashem’s Malchus is negatively impacted as well. Thus, when
we exclaim Yimloch Hashem LeOlam, we are asking for our position to be
elevated so that Hashem’s Malchus can be fully and appropriately established.
We should certainly take comfort in the fact that Hashem’s position in the
world works together with ours, and that our roles can improve together!
In many of our Tefillos, we recite “Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu--our
G-d and G-d of our forefathers.” Chronologically and from a perspective of
honor and respect, it would appear that we should first begin Elokei
Avoseinu -and then--V’Elokeinu. Perhaps the lesson to us is that
without first recognizing and establishing our own personal and close
relationship with Hashem, the relationship Hashem had with the Avos is not
really so relevant. When we recite the Bracha of Go’al Yisrael--Who
redeemed Yisrael (after Kriyas Shema in the morning and evening), we
recognize that Hashem redeemed our forefathers in the past, and can/will
therefore redeem us again in the Ultimate Redemption Bimheyra BeYameinu.
However, when we recite the Bracha of Go’el Yisrael (in Shemone Esrei three
times daily), we proclaim that Hashem can/will and is redeeming us directly
in the here and now. In these last few days of Chodesh Nissan, let
us work on intensifying our personal relationship with Hashem, so that His
Malchus, and His Geulah, is personal to us as well. We can begin by
concentrating on the Pasuk of “Yimloch Hashem LeOlam” when recited in
our Tefillos, as well as by reciting the Bracha of Go’el Yisrael--Hashem
is redeeming me-- with special recognition and intensity--at
least in the month of Iyar--connecting the Geulah of Nissan to the Geulah of
LESSONS FROM PESACH--PART 3
The Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Mo’adim II, p.428) teaches
that we can reinforce our feelings for the Geulah Shleimah every day in the
Tefillah of Ezras Avoseinu which contains so many powerfully meaningful
phrases, among them:
Avoseinu…Magen U’Moshiah Livneihem Achareihem Bechol Dor V’Dor”
-“U’Mibaladecha Ain Lanu Melech Go’el U’Moshiah”
-“VeOneh LeAmo B’Eis Shavam Eilav”
-“Tzur Yisrael Kumah B’Ezras Yisrael U’fdeih Chinumecha Yehudah V’Yisrael”
Taking literally just an extra moment to feel the words as one says them can
strengthen one’s D’veikus to Hashem and deepen one’s yearning for the Geulah
are familiar with the bracha we give another of “Gefen”--Gezunt,
Parnassah and Nachas. The Chasam Sofer finds another
acronym in the term “Gefen”--it is Geulaseinu u’Pedus Nafsheinu--our
physical and spiritual redemption. Have this in mind as well when giving
the bracha of “Gefen”.
the Haggadah we read that Hashem was “Chisheiv Es HaKeitz”--which
some meforshim teach means that we were released 190 (the Gematria of
Keitz) years early because of the difficulty of the Galus we were
experiencing and/or because of the depths of the tumah we had reached. Let
us think for a moment. The Navi (Micah 7:15) teaches us that Kimei
Tzeisecha MeiEretz Mitzrayim Erenu Niflaos--as in the days when you left
Egypt, I will show wonders.” We are now in the year 5776--if we add on the
190 years in which Hashem was Chishev Es HaKeitz in Mitzrayim (and it
is definitely at least a theoretical possibility that this will happen
again--based on the Pasuk and due to our difficulties in Galus and all of
the tumah around us)--that brings us up to the year 5966, which is just 34
years short of the year 6000 (and we know what that means). This should
provide some additional inspiration for us to do Teshuvah as soon as
Kriyas Yam Suf, the Pasuk (Shemos 14:14) states: Hashem Yilacheim Lachem
VeAtem Tacharishun. The Midrash (Mechilta to Beshalach 2:14) teaches
that even when we stand and remain silent Hashem fights for us, then, Kal
V’Chomer--all the more so, will He fight on our behalf when we call out
and praise Him. The lesson is there for all to see--it is better to
communicate with Hashem than to remain silent. Hakhel Note: Let us look
for a moment at the Nusach of the Musaf Shemone Esrei that we recite
everyday of Yom Tov: “Yehi Ratzon Milfanecha…Melech Rachaman
Shetashuv U’Seracheim Aleinu…B’Rachamecha HaRabbim.”
Then a little later we once again recite: “Melech Rachaman
Racheim Aleinu…BaHamon Rachamecha.”
We plead time and time again for Hashem to bring His Rachamim upon us. We
must recognize the value of our not remaining silent and the importance of
connecting to Hashem with Kavannah!
Also at Kriyas Yam Suf, the Pasuk (14:17) states: “VeIkabda BePharoh
U’Vechol Cheilo.” The Midrash teaches us that the reason Paroh is
mentioned first is because since he began to sin against K’lal Yisroel and
the Mitzriyim followed, so too, was he punished first, and then the
Mitzriyim followed in receiving their punishment. The Midrash then goes a
step further: “If in the case of punishment he who sinned first is punished
first, then Kal V’Chomer--all the more so will one who acted
meritoriously and led others in that direction receive his reward at the
outset as well!
The Pasuk that follows at Kriyas Yam Suf (14:18) states: “VeYadu
Mitzrayim Ki Ani Hashem…and the Mitzriyim will know that I am Hashem.”
The question becomes--why at all does it make a difference as to whether the
Mitzriyim will know who Hashem is--they will no longer be alive in seconds,
minutes, or at most a few hours. HaRav Shach, Z’tl, explains that the Pasuk
is teaching us how precious and important even a few seconds, minutes or
hours of recognizing and appreciating Hashem truly are. We should not be
spoiled by the manifold opportunities that we have--but instead should
appreciate and savor each and every bracha opportunity, every Tefillah
opportunity…and each and every realization and actualization of a Teshuvah
Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (115:14, as recited in Hallel each day of
Pesach), “Yevareich Yirei Hashem Haketanim Im HaGedolim--He will
bless those who fear Hashem, the small as well as the great.” This Pasuk
should give us all encouragement--for it teaches us that Hashem blesses us
all in accordance with our level. We need not be the Rav, the Rosh Yeshiva,
or the one giving the Mussar lecture--we can be a katan and
receive Hashem’s blessing--as long as we try to be Yirei Hashem--sensing
Hashem’s presence throughout the day!
not be fooled by its loftiness and sublimity--Shir Hashirim has many
practical lessons for us as well. Chazal (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 8:12) teach
us, based on the Posuk of “Haelef Lecha Shlomo U’mosayim L’notrim
Es Piryo--One thousand for Shlomo and two hundred to those who watch his
fruit”--that the reward for one who learns while traveling (“Lecha”)
is five times (1000 vs. 200) greater than for one who simply learns in the
Beis Medrash (“Notrim Es Piryo”). It is interesting that
the numbers the Posuk uses for a ratio of 5:1 is 1000:200. A possible
explanation may be based upon the Chofetz Chayim (quoted in Item 30, Volume
II, Number 2 (Teves/Shevat 5762) of the Bulletin – available at
http://tinyurl.com/2neafe), who states that one can learn 200 words of
Torah, which is equivalent to 200 separate Mitzvos, in one minute. If one
learns while traveling, Hashem considers it as if he is learning five times
as much, or 1,000 words per minute. While traveling, one should await and
treasure the incredible opportunity to perform the equivalent of 1,000
Mitzvos per minute.
I. If one had to describe the essence of Pesach in one word, it would be
‘Emunah’. Even the Matzah is described as the Food of Emunah. The most
famous Ramban in Chumash found at the end of Parashas Bo (which we
understand HaRav Wolbe, Z’tl, said should be memorized) affirmatively
states: “and from the great and famous miracles, one must recognize the
hidden miracles of everyday life which are the Yesod HaTorah Kulah--the
foundation of the entire Torah.” One has no part in the Torah unless he
believes that all of our affairs and experiences-- everything
that occurs in one’s life--are miracles, and that there is no nature, nor a
‘minhag haolam’ at all--either on a communal, or a private level. In
fact, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, writes that anything that can be
ascribed to Tevah and Mazal are Nisyonos on life. Based on this most
fundamental of Torah teachings, we present the following essential
1. The Rabbeinu Bachya (Shemos 14:31) brings from the Rabbeinu Chananel
that there are four basic parts to Emunah: (A) Emunah B’HaKadosh Baruch Hu;
(B) Emunah B’Nevi’im; (C) Emunah B’Olam Habba; and (D) Emunah B’Viyas HaGoel.
The Rabbeinu Bachya continues that one who possesses these four beliefs has
great zechuyos. He provides an essential method for one strengthening his
Emunah--and that is to answer Amen to the brachos of others. Amen, of
course, is an acronym for Kel-Melech-Ne’eman--that Hashem is our G-d
and trustworthy King. With these three words (and consequently in the one
word of Amen) we describe Hashem as the All-Powerful-One Who closely watches
over us and Who punishes and rewards in accordance with our deeds. Hakhel
Note: Accordingly, it would be very much in order for one to commence a
personal Amen campaign--in which he sincerely and dedicatedly answers this
sacred word (which should not be uttered in vein) with Kavannah and
2. At the outset of Hallel, we recite the Pesukim: “Rom Ahl Kol Goyim
Hashem…” followed by “Me KaShem Elokeinu…HaMashpili Liros
BaShomayim U’Va’aretz”. This means that while the world believes that
Hashem is in the distant Heavens, gazing upon us far away from humanity--we
know that we can feel Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis hovering over us and
directly upon us. However, there are different levels of Hashgacha Pratis
that one can experience. The Ramban (Iyov 36:7) writes: “Kefi Kirvaso
LeHidabeik BeEilokav Yishtamer Shemirah Me’ulah--in accordance with
one’s desire to come close to Hashem, will Hashem come closer and watch over
him.” How can we develop our D’veikus B’Hashem? The Sifsei Chaim
brings the fascinating words of Yirmiyahu HaNavi (9:22-23): “Ko Amar
Hashem Ahl Yishallel Chochom BeChachmaso…--thus said Hashem: ‘Let not
the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, and let not the strong man
glorify himself with his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with
his wealth. For only with this may one glorify himself--contemplating and
knowing Me.” The Sifsei Chaim explains that this means that our
importance to Hashem is not dependent on our wisdom, strength or
abilities--but only in how we exercise our bechirah towards Avodas
Hashem. He continues that when each person recognizes his reward in
Olam Habba, it will not be based on the fact that he was a Rosh Yeshiva, or
a Chassidic Rebbe, or a children’s Rebbi or a businessman or an accountant.
Rather, it will be in accordance with the madreigah that he was supposed to
have reached in this world in his Avodas Hashem--every person Kidrachav
U’Kefi Ma’alalav. It is for this reason that Hashem hides the
complete Da’as Hashem from us in this world--and we will only understand
Hashem’s actions in Olam Hazeh at the Geulah Sheleimah--it is to give us the
opportunity to exercise our Bechirah Chafshis and to realize our potential
without being forced or even easily led to the only true conclusion.
3. At the end, the darkess of Galus will be exceedingly dark, as the Pasuk
(Zechariah 49:7) says: “Le’eis Erev Yehiyeh Ohr--so that the clarity
of the light will be most appreciated. As things appear dark, darker,
darkest (now with our own people attacking us in Eretz Yisrael, we must
strengthen ourselves with the knowledge that the clarity of true light will
soon shine forth.” As Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 90: 15): “Samcheinu
KeYimos Inisanu--Hashem will bring us joy to compensate for the previous
4. The Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (1:9) brings the Pasuk in Shir HaShirim
(1:9): “Lesusasi BeRichbei Paroh Demiseich Rayasi--Hashem, I realize
that my relationship with You can be compared to that of the horses of
Paroh’s army in the hands of the chariot riders. He remarkably explains
that the world improperly believes that Hashem directs us in this way and
that, just as chariot riders direct horses to go here and to go there.
However, this is not what happened to Paroh’s chariot riders--they did not
lead the horses, the horse miraculously led them. With the Geulas Mitzrayim,
Hashem put us in a position of the horses at Kriyas Yam Suf which led the
driver. We determine our own fate and the fate of the world--by our
choices, by our actions. Hashem lets us ‘run the
world’ in this way. Will the Geulah come today--time will not tell--we
5. To take a short and potent Emunah lesson with us daily,
highly recommend Emuna Daily. To join and for further information
email@example.com. The recording is available via
telephone as well: Dial
access code 840886#.
For the last several days, we have once again been able to recite Mizmor
LeSodah (Tehillim Chapter 100) in Pesukei D’Zimra. We should not once again
settle quickly into habit as we recite this joyous song which temporarily
serves as a daily Todah to Hashem. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 51:9)
rules L’Halacha that when reciting Mizmor LeSodah in Pesukei D’Zimra “Yeish
L’Omra Benegina Shekol HaShiros Asidos Libatel Chutz MeMizmor LeSodah--we
should recite the Mizmor with a pleasant tune, because this song will
uniquely survive forever”. In its five short Pesukim, the Mizmor conveys a
powerfully sweet message which we should carry--and which should carry
us--throughout the day.
The 26th of Nissan, is the Yahrzeit of Yehoshua Bin Nun. Chazal (Shabbos
105B) teach that the elders of his generation were punished for not properly
eulogizing him. Yehoshua instituted two of our great Tefillos:
1. The first paragraph of Aleinu LeShabeyach, which is a highlight of our
Tefillos on the Yamim Noraim, and is recited three times daily as part of
the important conclusion of each of our Tefillos (the Rema to Shulchan Aruch
[Orach Chaim 132:2] emphasizes that we should be careful to have Kavannah
when reciting Aleinu.
2. The second Bracha of Birkas HaMazon was instituted by Yehoshua upon
entering into Eretz Yisrael (Berachos 48A).
We should be especially careful tomorrow (and every day!) with theses two
special Tefillos, both of which express our great thanks to Hashem for the
blessings he has bestowed upon us. Let us take these opportunities to
properly remember Yehoshua Bin Nun--and keep some part of his great legacy
with us daily (if some want to stay especially close to their Rav or
Talmidei Chachomim--or keep the Shul or Bais Medrash in order--he can take
another part of these legacies as well!).
PRACTICAL POST-PESACH POINTS:
are still in the month of Nissan--there is a real reason that we
continue not to utter the Tachanun supplication daily. Chazal remind us that
B’Nissan Nigalu U’V’Nissan Assidin Liga’el--just as we were redeemed
in Nissan in the past--we will be redeemed in Nissan in the future. We must
continue to take a step back to at least appreciate what this means. Each
day in Mussaf over Pesach we exclaimed V’Havi’einu L’Tzion Irecha B’Rina
Velirushalayim Beis Mikdashecha BeSimchas Olam--bring us to Tzion, Your
city, in glad song, and to Yerushalayim, home of Your
sanctuary, in eternal joy. While we cannot fathom the glad
song of millions of people together, nor the eternal joy of even
ourselves personally--we must at least appreciate how we need to yearn and
long for the moment--which will then incredibly become eternal! We must
remind ourselves of the poignant words of the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim
(end of Chapter 19), who teaches that each and every individual
must daven for the Geulas Yisrael, pointedly writing as
Yomar Adam Me Ani…She’espalel Ahl Yerushalayim--if a person would say
‘Who am I…to daven for Yerushalayim--will it be because of my prayer that
the Yeshuah will come?....” This is why a person was created individually,
so that each individual should say ‘The world was created for me!’ It is
certainly a Nachas Ruach to Hashem that His children plead and pray
for the Geulah…. Each and every one of us is therefore obligated to do so,
and no one can excuse himself because of his lack of position or power…for
it is not possible for Kevod Shomayim to be increased until the Geulah of
Yisrael comes, as the two are interdependent….”
Now--Nissan 5776, as the pangs of Ikvasah D’Moshicha beat about
us--is the time for us to be especially passionate--now--Nissan 5776, is the
time for each and every one of us to call out in our hearts for the
Geulas Yisrael! Do not lose--and instead very dedicatedly use--the
opportunities in each Shemone Esrei, most certainly over this week:
Tekah BeShofar, Velirushalayim Irecha, Es Tzemach,
V’sechezenah Eineinu Beshuvecha L’Tzion, Sheyibaneh Beis HaMikdash
BeMeheirah V’Yameinu, and VeArvah LaShem Minchas Yehudah Virushalayim.
Let us call out from the heart--and may our calls be answered just as our
forefathers’ calls were heard, as testified by the Pasuk (Shemos 2:23,24):
“Vata’al Shavasam Ehl HaElokim…Vayishmah Elokim Es Na’akasam VaYizkor
Elokim Es Briso….” May it be speedily and in our days!
The Second Hallel. We have concluded our recitation of Hallel HaMitzri
(Tehillim 113-118), and Chazal teach that it would be inappropriate to
continue to recite it daily as Hallel during the rest of the year. There
is, however, a second Hallel, which is known as Hallel HaGadol (Tehillim
136). Hallel HaGadol contains 26 Pesukim each of which ends with the
phrase “Ki Le’olam Chasdo--for His kindness endures forever.” HaRav
Meir Schuck, Z’tl, brings Chazal (Pesachim 118A) who teach that the reason
this Kepitel is known as Hallel HaGadol--the great Hallel, is because of the
conclusion it contains--Nosein Lechem Lechol Basar Ki Le’olam Chasdo,
in which we affirm our unwavering belief that Hashem not only is the
executor of open miracles--splitting the sea, giving us water in the desert,
giving us the Torah from the Heavens among the trembling mountains--but that
He also sustains each and every creature in accordance with his needs.
Hallel HaGadol thanks Hashem for His everyday kindness to us. On a daily
basis, HaRav Schuck, Z’tl, explains, we must express our Ki Le’olam
Chasdo for the miracles within what is to others nature itself. If one
can relate back the world and its common experiences--eating, drinking,
taking care of one’s needs, seeing the things that he sees, meeting the
people that he meets, all back to their Source--then on a daily basis, and
in fact many times on a daily basis he can remember the phrase: “Nosein
Lechem Lechol Basar Ki Le’olam Chasdo!”
Torah’s Definition of Beauty. Perhaps one of the most famous phrases in
Ahz Yashir is Zeh Keili V’Anveihu--which Chazal (Shabbos 133B)
interpret as teaching us that one should beautify the Mitzvos, by building a
nice Sukkah, buying a beautiful Lulav, wearing nice Tzitzis…. HaRav
Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, teaches that the beautification of Mitzvos are not
limited to Mitzvos which are Bein Adam LaMakom--rather the guideline of Zeh
Keili V’Anveihu applies just as equally to Mitzvos which are Bein Adam
L’Chaveiro as well. Accordingly, when addressing another it should be in a
pleasant and respectful manner, when writing to someone it should be in a
neat and thoughtful way, when giving Tzedakah it should be with the feeling
that I am helping another Tzelem Elokim. When one beautifies any
Mitzvah--whether it is Bein Adam LaMakom or Bein Adam L’Chaveiro--he indeed
most beautifies himself!
D. Daily Improvements.
all know, Chazal teach “Ra’asah Shifcha Al Hayam Mah Shelo Ra’ah…the
maidservant at the Sea saw what the greatest of the Nevi’im were not able to
see in their most sublime of prophesies.” The Ba’alei Mussar point out that
even after everything that the maidservants saw in the heavens, on the
earth, and on the sea--the next day they still remained maidservants. How
could this be?! The explanation is that over time the supernally uplifting
experience that the maidservants had, dissipated because after the
experience they left it and did not seek to remain on the high level they
had attained. We present several brief and practical applications that we
can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming
Every morning we make the bracha of Shelo Asani Aved. This bracha
should now come to life for us daily--for we truly could have been lowly,
petrified, servile, decadent slaves with no independent bearing or existence
of our own. Moreover, since we achieved Cheirus Olam when we left
Mitzrayim--the nations of the world have never been able to destroy us or
even enslave us as a people again. Remember--Shelo Asani Aved--say
it with appreciation!
Every morning we make the bracha of Shelo Asani Goy. The Maharal
explains that just as the Six Days of Creation reached their pinnacle with
the creation of man, so too, did mankind reach its pinnacle with the
creation of Bnei Yisrael from the Kur HaBarzel of Mitzrayim. Our
exodus thus enabled mankind to reach its potential, rather than be destroyed
for lack of fulfillment. If the Bnei Yisrael would have remained just
another Goy, not only would we have taken the path of so many other
nations which fell away and disappeared, but the world itself could not have
survived. Thus, the fact that Hashem has not made us like the other nations
is, quite literally, keeping everyone going. Remember--Shelo Asani Goy--not
only being personally privileged--but having creation reach its intent--and
allowing each sunrise to keep coming!
Dovid HaMelech exclaims (Tehillim118:24) “…Zeh Hayom…Nagilah VeNesmicha
Vo--this is the day…let us rejoice and be glad in Him.” The Malbim
provides us here with an extremely fundamental lesson. He writes that Dovid
HaMelech is teaching us that the Ikar Simcha is not in the Yeshua
itself, but in the awareness that Hashem is with us. The miracles we
experience are given to us not as an end, but as a means for us to
recognize Hashem’s closeness to us. Remember--Nagilah VeNesmicha Vo--we
can rejoice that Hashem is with us--each and every day! This is the
Before performing many of our Mitzvos, we recite the bracha “Asher
Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vetzivanu--Who sanctified us with His
Mitzvos (plural), and commanded us to perform [the particular Mitzvah
of…eating of Matzah, the taking of the Lulav, enwrapping in Tzitzis]. The
Chasam Sofer asks--should not the Nusach HaBracha on a Mitzvah be Asher
Kideshanu BeMitzvaso Vetzivanu (singular and not plural)--Who
sanctified us in the Mitzvah, i.e., the Mitzvah I am about to perform
[the eating of Matzah, the taking of the Lulav, the enwrapping in Tzitzis]?
Why not be specific and talk about our sanctification with the Mitzvah at
hand? The Chasam Sofer answers that, as the Zohar explains, the 248 Mitzvos
Asei and the 365 Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei are the counterparts of our Eivarim
and Giddim respectively. We cannot sanctify one Eiver or
Gid at a time, for as we know, a Karbon that is missing a limb is Pasul.
It is likewise inappropriate for us to recite that we are being sanctified
only by the one Mitzvah that we are about to perform. Rather, we declare
our Kedusha through our acceptance of the Mitzvos in general, and that we
are now going to perform this Mitzvah in particular. We thus absolutely,
unequivocally and rejoicingly declare that with every Mitzvah that we
perform, we are accepting upon ourselves the privilege, obligation,
wholesomeness and Kedushah of all of the Mitzvos!
we noted before Pesach, the Chasam Sofer teaches that we know there are
certain things that can bring the Geulah. One of them, as indicated by the
words ‘Kol Dichfin Yesei VeYeichol’ is the giving of Tzedakah. We
are, of course, familiar with the Pasuk in Yeshaya (1:27) as well: “Tzion
BeMishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveha B’Tzedakah”. It very much behooves us,
then, to give Tzedakah--especially for the sake of Geulah. In this
post-Pesach period, many of us may feel that we have given an inordinate
amount of Tzedakah before Pesach, and that there are several weeks until the
next Yom Tov when we will give again. We may suggest, however, that one
overcome this guile of the Yetzer Hara--especially in this month of Geulah--and
give Tzedakah--perhaps even on a regular or periodic basis for the sake of
Geulah! We all believe, and we all know as an absolute truth that the
Geulah is coming. Giving Tzedakah to bring it is truly much more secure
than money in the bank!
QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE:
If the Moshiach comes between today and Pesach Sheni (the 14th of Iyar),
will each one of us bring a Korban Pesach on Pesach Sheni, or because we
missed bringing the Korban Pesach on Erev Pesach will we have to wait all
the way until next year to bring the Korban Pesach?
QUESTION OF THE DAY TWO:
two seforim in Tanach do not have Hashem’s name mentioned directly in them?
OF THE DAY:
HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Z’tl, would often advise: “Keep on smiling,
and keep on going!”
There are still many cake and cookie products (many ‘on sale’) left from
Pesach. Please remember that many of these products are non-Gebrokts, and
the appropriate bracha is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos. Even if you know
it--you may be used to making a Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the
coffee--so extra special care is required. This will provide you with a
special opportunity to focus and concentrate on you Brachos--one great way
to practice your Emunah in this post-Pesach period.
PRACTICAL LESSONS FROM PESACH
Shir HaShirim. In the incredible Sefer HaTodaah (translated as
The Book of Our Heritage [Feldheim Publishers]), Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov,
Z’tl, writes as follows:
HaShirim is unique among all of the Kisvei Kodesh, all of the works of
Scripture, for Hashem’s name is not mentioned even circumspectly (although
Hashem’s name is also not recorded in Megilas Esther, it is clearly alluded
to, as Chazal point out). Shir HaShirim is written entirely in the form of
a parable of the exalted love between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael… Through this
metaphor, Shlomo HaMelech teaches us that all earthly desires are merely a
method to enable us to understand the love that we should have for Hashem.
When man immerses himself solely in the parable--in the material world--he
is not able to understand the higher message that the parable conveys. On
Pesach, the spiritual essence that exists in the material world is revealed
before us. Paroh and his army, all creatures, the sea and its tempest, the
earth and the sky, are all subordinate to our relationship--yes, our
relationship with Hashem. On Pesach, we are all freed from the slavery of
Mitzraim and from the slavery to our evil inclination. At this time, we are
most apt to understand the song of love between Hashem and His People.”
Note: As we all know Shir HaShirim is the holiest of all things holy (Shir
HaShirim Rabba 1). Obviously, then, once we better appreciate the meaning
of Shir HaShirim for us, we must be sure not to pack away this teaching with
our Pesach supplies until next year. Instead, we must make the effort on a
daily basis to “sing” the Song of Songs--if not by physically reciting its
sacred words, then by constantly remembering what is the parable--and what
is the reality Try to see how many times you can catch yourself during the
day, whether you are on the phone, in the store, walking, or even while
studying or davening, and remind yourself that you live in a world, in a
reality, in which its spiritual essence is so clear that Hashem’s name need
not even be mentioned. So why let the Yetzer Hara muddy the waters with his
earthy parable when you can sing the Song of all Songs--each and every day!
Expressing Oneself to Hashem. We recall the powerful words of the Rambam
(Hilchos Brachos 10:26):
primary rule is that a person should always call out to Hashem for the
future and ask for His mercy; and give thanks for the past and praise Hashem,
each person according to his strength. And the more one thanks Hashem and
constantly praises Him, the more praiseworthy he himself is.”
Chaim Friedlander Z’TL deduces from this, and notes that, the Rambam does
NOT write that the more one calls out to Hashem and asks for His mercy,
the more praiseworthy he is. Rather, the Rambam writes the more one
thanks and praises Hashem, the greater he is. Indeed, Chazal teach us
that in the future, the Korban Todah--the Thanks Offering--will be the
Korban that continues on and remains with us after the world becomes filled
with the knowledge of Hashem. The Sin Offerings and the Guilt Offerings will
no longer have a place in our lives, but thanks always will.
amazing to note that the level of thanks and praise to Hashem on Pesach is
so high that no Korban Todah can be brought because they must be brought
with chometz loaves of bread--which is impossible on Pesach! This is
obviously no coincidence, as the Torah could have either excluded the
chometz loaves from the offering on Pesach, or permitted them for the sake
of the offering only. The message is clear--on Pesach, we have grown even
above this Korban.
start the Spring/Summer season with our right foot forward, by keeping our
Pesach spirit of Thanks and Hallel, so that as we begin to once again recite
Mizmor L’Sodah daily, we will merge and blend our joy over the redemption of
the past into an everlasting thanks continuing into the future.
As you go through davening (especially Pesukei D’Zimrah) focus on and
feel the words of thanks--especially considering your being born close to
the time of the Final Redemption and your having the tremendous opportunity
to contribute to the last stages of Zechusim, putting up those last few
bricks on the wall, to bring Moshiach, Bimhera B’yameinu.
Keeping On The Spiritual Weight Gained. We must recognize that the
physical pounds that we may have gained over Pesach is symbolic of the
spiritual weight which we really should have gained--and not shed--in the
days and weeks after the Holiday. Accordingly, we provide the following
additional clear lessons we all undoubtedly learned over Pesach, and
some practical way to implement each one in our daily lives:
Hakaras Hatov—Such as Moshe Rabbeinu recognizing the good that the
earth, the water, and Bisya Bas Paroh did on his behalf. There are also many
examples--what we owe to the dogs, the donkeys--and even the Egyptians for
being our hosts for so long.
Pick one person in your home or office and show him/her an added level of
thanks or respect daily in recognition of what he/she has done for you, even
if it was only a one-time act or event.
Segulas Yisrael—Pesach was a “second creation” for mankind, as it not
only established Hashem as the Creator of the world, but as Ongoing
Supervisor of the world with B’nei Yisrael chosen as the nation to epitomize
the purpose of man’s creation. The commentaries on the Siddur explain “Ata
V’Chartanu MiKol Ha’amim” as specifically referring to Hashem choosing
to redeem us from Mitzrayim and giving us the Torah 49 days later. This
explains why so many Mitzvos are “Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim”--because
they all emanate from this great choice--our eternal selection to be
mankind’s crown jewel.
Practical Suggestion: Do something daily--even if it is a Mitzvah--only
because you recognize the gift and opportunity that Hashem has presented you
with in being unique, special and different from all that surrounds you--for
being that crown jewel!
Hashgacha Pratis—Hashem’s care and concern for each individual member of
B’nei Yisrael evidenced by such examples as thousands of children being
saved from the king’s decree of death, by Moshe Rabbeinu being raised in
Paroh’s palace, and B’nei Yisrael walking through Egyptian houses in
daylight as just a few feet away Egyptians were enwrapped in such tangible
darkness that they could not even move.
Practical Suggestion: At some time during the day, and really as often as
possible, feel the Hashgacha Pratis, Hashem’s watching over you, in your
daily life. There must be a reason that you saw a loose dog, that you met
this particular person, or that you heard that D’var Torah. Also, of
course, remember to say “Baruch Hashem”, “Thank You, Hashem” or “Please Help
Me, Hashem” quietly (or out loud) as many times as possible during the day.
Reward and Punishment -- The Egyptians who hid their animals in fear of
Hashem were spared those animals. Similarly, in reward for saying that
“Hashem is righteous”, the Egyptians merited burial after their Yam Suf
debacle. On the other hand, the Egyptians were punished in kind and in
proportion to their level of cruelty and animosity expressed towards Bnei
Yisrael, as is evidenced, for example, by the way each individual Mitzri
died at the Yam Suf--some sinking quickly like lead, others being tossed as
stones, and yet others being thrown about like straw. Even those who were
gleeful over our servitude, such as the bechorim (first born) of other
nations, got their due. May the same exact justice be meted out against
each individual Nazi and each one of our past and present enemies, speedily
in our days.
Before doing a Mitzvah, and prior to or while contemplating a possible
Aveira, recognize that Hashem’s Justice is exact, accurate, and correct.
When one is rewarded for davening with Kavannah, he will also be rewarded
for coming to Shul in the first place, for arriving there on time, and
indeed for every step of the way (instead of turning over in bed). On the
other hand, when one is punished, every hurtful word will be counted, each
mistruth will be weighed and every degree of Chillul Hashem and Kiddush
Hashem will be accounted for. As the Pasuk teaches (Devorim 32:4) “Hatzur
Tomim Pa’alo…”--perfect is His work, for all His Paths are just. This
is related to the incredible degree of middah k’neged middah (measure
for measure) with which Hashem runs this world (as we learn when studying
the precise nature of each of the ten Makkos). Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim
121:5) “Hashem is your shadow”--Hashem responds to us and it is up to us
whether that shadow will be dark and gloomy--or illustrious and beautiful!!
Teva—The Makkos, the concomitant freedom of B’nei Yisrael from the
Makkos, the miraculous growth of B’nei Yisrael (from seventy to millions of
people) while in desperate servitude, the entire world’s viewing and
experiencing of the miracles at the Yam Suf, all dispel the concept of
nature and natural existence. Pesach occurs in the spring not only because
it made it easier for B’nei Yisrael to leave, but also for us to appreciate
that what the world calls nature, is really the Hand of Hashem. It is
fascinating to note that the Hebrew word for nature, or Teva, consists of
the same letters as “Tava”, which means to drown, referring us back to the
Sea, to teach us how ‘natural’ events really occur. It is not surprising,
then, that we do not eat Chametz on Pesach, which represents nature taking
its course on flour and water, but instead use Matzah, which demonstrates
control over what would otherwise occur. The Ba’alei Mussar explain that we
must take this lesson and exercise control over our own nature, for the more
we do so, the more we will overcome the physical forces of this world, and
raise ourselves from the impurities surrounding us, up and towards the 49
levels of purity that we must begin to strive for.
Practical Suggestion: When we see something that looks like a beautiful or
even frightening element of nature, recognize that it is really the Yad
Hashem, and have it serve as a reminder to you of Hashem’s control over
every aspect of the world’s existence--and that you, too, must control your
nature and elevate your precious everyday life to the sublime and spiritual!