Step Three:Think-Hashem, You are the only One who can provide this, please grant
it to me/us.
And then continue on with the brocha, which is now
empowered with freshness and anticipation.
We urge you to try the Chofetz Chaim’s awesome
advice.You will see how it
improves your kavana remarkably, without taking much time at all!
For further reference in this area, we refer you to Praying
With Fire, Chapter 6.
PUBLIC NOTICE ON INSECT INSPECTION
The following PUBLIC NOTICE has been distributed
and signed by thirty prominent rabbis (including rabbis who give many
hashgochos), Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Menachem Weissmandel, Rabbi Yisroel
Reisman, Rabbi Yisroel Gornish and Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita, among
It was also signed by the “haimishe” hashgocha on
Fresh Express, who removed his hashgocha on the notice.
“Notice and Warning
After much investigation by expert mashgichim, insects
have been consistently found on the following vegetables:
PRE-WASHED ROMAINE LETTUCE, ROMAIN HEARTS AND ROMAINE
FOR EXAMPLE, EUROPEAN, ITALIAN, AND GREENER SELECTION;
AND FRESH LEAFY SALADS, INCLUDING SPRING MIX AND BABY
This is true of all companies, even those packaged and
sealed with hechsherim by individual rabbis or kashrus organizations,
Based upon the foregoing, it is strictly prohibited to
eat any of the above without first appropriately checking for insects, and
the stores that sell them, and those that feed these products to others at
simchas and other gatherings based upon the fact that they do not need
checking cause the many to stumble (“machshilim es haRabim”)
One is obligated to check every leaf with a careful and
quality checking by an expert in the nature of insects which are usually to
be found upon such products, and not simply by rinsing or washing alone.
All of the above does not
refer to iceberg lettuce, cabbage and to those vegetables which are grown in
greenhouses, if they have a quality hechsher which is under the guidance of
expert rabbonim, and with respect to these products, one should do according
to the instructions of his Posek.”
The above was signed in Cheshvan, 5766, and was
distributed for public information over the last several days.
We provide the above as a community service, and one
should check with his Posek for further information and guidance.
POLISHING THE HEIRLOOM
As we leave Parshas Vayera and enter Parsha Chaye Sara,
we are awed by the actions of Avraham Avinu in his everyday, and not so
Except for those among us who are geirim (who have
chosen the path of Torah by insight and inspiration), we are genetically
direct descendents of Avraham Avinu and have, quite literally, inherited
(by DNA or otherwise), an heirloom of character known as gomlei chasodim, or
bestowers of kindness (see Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:1).
How can we most effectively utilize, and even build
upon, this enormous character treasure, so that our chesed shines beyond
expectations of the average person, or even our own expectations?Can we do something to make our Avos (or even more recent ancestors)
point down at us and proudly say “These are my children”?
Here is a practical and effective suggestion:Keep your own chesed notebook.In
this notebook, you can, among other matters:
singles whom you know (or are made aware) who need a shidduch-and refer
to it from time-to-time when speaking with friends or new
acquaintances--you may even make a few shidduchim from within your very
changing a list of cholim to daven for, and/or give tzedakah for, daily.
a job page-people you know who are looking for a job and match them to
jobs that become available
a phone call tomorrow or in a few days to a person not feeling well or
to an elderly or lonely person, or to a person you know who needs
cheering up, who just came to mind and who will soon be out of your
down helpful information that you have learned, in order to share it
with others (if you do not do immediate email to your email list).Examples:when flu
shots are available; that a new drug is coming out; how to get rid of
stains in your couch; how to save on your heating bills; self-control
a list of helpful phone numbers of all kinds and keep your own database,
such as shaila hotline, poison control, other helplines, etc.
down your thoughts as to how you can help a relative, neighbor, or
friend which may come to your mind, and will slip away within the next
a calendar portion of the notebook, briefly note the chesed (both public
and private) you may have performed today.Remember-at least one private chesed daily!
Of course, the notebook need not be a “composition
book” or “spiral”, and can be on a computer or Palm Pilot to the
extent it works best for you.The
point is that you become a more chesed-oriented person than you already are
by keeping a written record, which is essentially keeping up with yourself.
The heirloom is there, it only needs to be polished-for
everyone to be proud of it.
One final point:The
more unnoticed or unappreciated the chesed, the greater the chesed is.You may have to remind yourself of this from time-to-time.
AN ULTIMATE IN CHESED
The Chofetz Chaim in the sefer Ahavas Chesed (2:15) brings the words of the Sh’lah HaKadosh-one
who gives tzedaka for the soul of a departed one-even if he is unrelated
(provided that the deceased is not a rosha) has certainly accomplished a
“hatzola gedola”, a great salvation, and nachas ruach to the neshama.
He continues that if one has departed this world
without descendents, you should attempt to provide for him with a “mitzvah
hakavuah ledoros”, a lasting mitzvah, for his neshamah.If one cannot do this, one should at least buy a sefer needed by the
tzibur (such as your shul) and write his name in the sefer-and EVERY TIME
one learns from the sefer-it brings nachas ruach to the niftar.
By doing chesed for a departed soul, we perform an
ultimate chesed-because we do mitzvos for him in this world-the world of
mitzvah performance-which he is unable to perform.
As Naomi said about Boaz “Blessed is he to Hashem, he
has not failed to perform chesed to the living and to the deceased (Megilas
It is important to note that the Rambam brings the
halchos of chesed, which are all derived from the mitzvah of V’Ahavta
L’reacha Komocha, in Hilchos Avail (the Laws of Mourning), Chapter 14.Perhaps this is because the most chesed, both quantitatively and
qualitatively, can be performed for and on behalf of, the departed.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:Think of someone, who need not be a relative, who perished in the
Holocaust, or in Eretz Yisroel in a terrorist bombing or in war, and learn a
Mishnah, give tzedakah, or buy a sefer needed by your shul on his or her
Perform an ultimate in chesed.
DO YOU HAVE THE TIME?
In order to obtain the zemanim for any city in the US
and Canada for any day, including alos, neitz, z'man Kriah Sh'ma,
times for Mincha, etc., please call 718-331-TIME(8463) for
computer-programmed responses based upon Zip Code.
THE SECOND LESSON
We are now ready for the second great lesson from the
Ramban (Shmos 4:10) cited yesterday. The Ramban presents a “chidush” as
to why he believes Moshe Rabbeinu did not want to be healed from his
speaking difficulties, which goes beyond our basic understanding that he did
not want to be healed (and therefore did not daven to be healed) simply
because he did not want to go before Paroh.
It was, the Ramban writes, because Moshe Rabbeinu never
wanted to forget the miracle that occurred to him when he was a young child.
We are all familiar with this miracle—when Paroh wished to determine
whether Moshe, as a young child, was destined to be the leader of B’nai
Yisroel, as his astrologers claimed, he tested him by placing both coal and
his crown in front of Moshe. The Malach Hashem pushed Moshe’s hands toward
the coal and he then put his hand in his mouth, and his life was spared.
The Great Lesson: Moshe Rabbeinu was willing to give up
his leading position in Klal Yisroel for all time, his receiving the Torah
directly from Hashem at Har Sinai, his being the father of all Neveim, and
his unparalleled accomplishments, both personally and for his people, so
that he would not forget even one of Hashem’s miracles on his behalf. What
are we to say for the life-saving miracles that each one of us has
experienced in his lifetime?
Here are some halachos which can serve as a start:
• When one personally experiences something that is “yotzi mederech
hateva,” commonly referred to as a “miracle,” one makes the bracha of
“sheoso li nes bamakom hezeh” when passing the spot (Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chayim 218:4). If one passes the spot more frequently than every 30
days, it should be said without “Shem U’Malchus” (ibid. Mishne Berurah
seif katan 15).
• The Chayei Odom (Conclusion) writes that one should
make a Seudas Hodaah (Thanksgiving Meal) on the anniversary date of the
miracle every year.
• The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (61:3) adds that one who
was miraculously saved should set aside money for tzedaka according to his
ability and distribute it to those who study Torah and should daven to
Hashem that his giving to tzedaka should be considered as if he brought a
Korban Todah. In fact, the Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 218, seif katan 32)
adds that, in recognition of the miracle, one should actually recite the
pesukim of the Parshas Todah (See Vayikra 7:11) from the Torah.
UP, UP AND AWAY
Moshe Rabbeinu was a “kvad peh” (had difficulty
speaking), and he so argued to Hakadosh Boruch Hu, in claiming that he was
not the person to appear before Paroh.
The Ramban (Shmos 4:10) notes that this problem of his
appearing before the King as a “kvad peh” was quite resolvable—all
Moshe Rebbeinu had to do was daven to Hashem to be healed from this malady
and he would have been cured.In
fact, the Ramban writes that Moshe Rabbeinu intentionally did not daven so
that he would not be healed, and so that he would not have to go!
The Ramban then incredibly concludes that Hashem did
not heal Moshe Rabbeinu because he did not daven for it.Had he davened for it, Moshe would have approached Paroh cured.As Hashem said, “Who gives mouths to people, or who makes people
incapable of speech or deaf or capable of sight, or blind, is it not I,
There is a great lesson we can learn here:
Despite the reasons we may give as to why it might have
been better for Moshe Rabbeinu to appear before Paroh as a kvad peh (to
ensure his humility, to demonstrate that he wasn’t G-d, etc.) and though
his speech difficulties were Divinely ordained, if Moshe had davened to be
healed, he would have been healed, and, as the Ramban asserts, Hashem
said—because you did not daven, I will simply not heal you.
As the words “pandemic” and “avian flu” get
bandied about by the media, historians and scientists, we note that it was
the yonah, a bird, that was not a messenger of death.Quite to the contrary, it brought the message to man that the world
would once again be a place for the living.In a similar way, the large fish that devoured Yonah was not the
source of his death, but the method of his being brought safely to shore.For us, the message is clear:It
is dependent on us—Daven, and I will heal you, don’t daven and…
Yes, of course, we can wait until it actually hits a
country and people are infected, but we do not find that Mordechai HaTzadik
waited an extra minute to daven, though Haman’s decree against the Jews
was to take effect 11 months later.As
the Gemara (Shabbos 32A) teaches, one should take the time and effort to
pray to Hashem that he not get sick, for zechus (merit) is needed to be
healed once sickness has set in.
Let us do our part.Where do we daven?Perhaps
at the end of Shemone Esrei in Elokai N’zor, or by saying additional
Tehillim, and/or, at any time, in our own words.We note that the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah defines the word
“mogen” in the brocha of “Mogen Avrohom” as “Hashem protects us
before any negative event or tzora occurs.”This is exactly what we are pleading for here-“Hashem, please be
May each and every one of our tefillos soar much higher
than a bird…up, up and away
to the highest Heavens!
A SHOCKING HALACHA
The Torah requires every Jewish adult, man and woman,
to pay for services provided to them on time.Essentially, this means that when a service provider (plumber,
tailor, computer technician, babysitter, etc.) concludes providing service
to you, you must pay immediately, or at least by the end of daytime (or if
services were concluded during the night, by daybreak of the next morning),
unless the worker agrees to a delayed payment (by mechila), or non-immediate
payment is expected as customary.If
one intentionally delays payment, he may well have simultaneously violated
five negative commandments and one positive commandment (all M’Doraysa)!
The pertinent Halachos may be further studied in
Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 339, and the Chofetz Chaim’s SeferAhavas Chesed (Part I, Chapters 9 and 10), and are required halachos
not only for employers, but also for storeowners, homeowners and housewives
who deal from time to time with workers and other service providers.One cannot, for example, leave an electrician or piano tuner whom you
trust at home alone, expect him to leave on his own, and pay him “When I
get a bill”, unless he has agreed to this arrangement.Remember, Mitzvos Doraysa are involved!
The above is only a brief overview of these
not-well-known Torah commandments, and further aspects, bli neder, will be
the topic of future bulletins.
Here is the shocking Halacha we were leading up to
If you tell your six-year old child, “Please clean up
your room tonight and I will give you an ice cream,” and he indeed
finishes the clean up at 9PM, you must give him an ice cream, and if you do
not have any ice cream, you must go out to buy him an ice cream then and
there (or at the latest, by daybreak of the next morning).If you never intended to buy him the ice cream, you may have well
violated five negative commandments and one positive commandment
simultaneously, all M’Doraysa.If
you intended to get him the ice cream, but you were too tired, unless he has
agreed to wait until a later date or this is your expressly mutually
agreed-upon practice, you have violated one negative commandment and the
positive commandment to pay on time, once again all M’Doraysa.
The child may be any age capable of performing work.
The wages could have been even only a candy bar, or
something not even worth a perutah.It
does not matter.
We have heard about children getting parents into
trouble, and parents getting children into trouble, but this is parents
getting themselves into trouble (in a big way).
For further study, see SeferAhavas Chesed (Part
I, 9:5), The Halachos of Other People’s Money by Rabbi Yisroel
Pinchas Bodner (Feldheim Publishing), page 119, and Journeys to Virtue
by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman (Artscroll), pages 354-355.
For tapes or CDs of various Hakhel Shiurim on practical
Choshen Mishpat issues for everyone by Rabbi Yisorel Belsky, Shlita, Rabbi
Yisroel Pinchas Bodner, Shlita, Rabbi Chaim Cohen, Shlita, Rabbi Moshe
Heinmann, Shlita, Rabbi Moshe Kaufman, Shlita (author of Money-Above the
Bottom Line), Rabbi Avrohom Rosenberg, Shlita (dayan-Machon Hahoyroa of
Monsey) and other rabbonim, please contact Hakhel’s tape center at
A REMARKABLE POSTSCRIPT:
In yesterday’s bulletin regarding paying children on
time, we noted that a child must expressly agree to wait until a later date
for his parent (or any other adult who has used his services) not to violate
the Torah prohibitions.As a
postscript, the expressed agreement of a child under the age of Bar/Bas
Mitzvah to a delayed payment must occur BEFORE his or her starting to work
(unlike an adult who can be mochel, or waive, timely payment even
immediately after his services are performed).See Halachos of Other People’s Money, page 129, citing Rav
Moshe Feinstein ZT’L, that children are not b’nei mechila, for further
MORE THAN RAIN SHOWERS
As this year’s Days of Awe and Days of Harvesting Joy
can now be viewed only by turning around, we look ahead to what we will make
of the coming year.The hopes,
the aspirations, the dreams...At
the end of this year, will we look back and find that we were truly better
people, that we accomplished a worthwhile goal, that we fulfilled our
potential in life?
Perhaps a good place to start is by looking at our
starting point as a nation.The
Tanna D’Vai Eliyahu teaches that everyone must say “When will my deeds
reach the deeds of my Avos, the deeds of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov?”What were the deeds of Avrohom Avinu?The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 10:2) writes that Avrohom Avinu was
driven by a great love of Hashem, and was ever absorbed in thoughts of
Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and the chasodim, the kindnesses, He performed for the
world and for the world’s purpose, mankind.Avrohom’s stellar love for others and resultant chesed was a
moon-like reflection of his recognition of Hashem’s infinite love and
chesed and his desire to emulate and honor Hashem by following His ways.
Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus Z’TL (Sichos Moreinu
– Sukkos, page 116-117) notes that when the Chofetz Chaim lists the 14
possible positive commandments that a person can violate when speaking
Loshon Hora (e.g., the commandments of judging favorably, remembering what
happened to Miriam, fearing Hashem, etc.), the Chofetz Chaim does not list a
violation of the positive precept of loving Hashem (V’ahavta es Hashem
Elokecha) which we recite in Shema twice daily.Why not, he queries – certainly when one speaks Loshon Hora he is
not demonstrating love of Hashem, and is in fact angering Him by speaking
against His children.Rabbi
Pincus answers that the mitzvah of loving Hashem is separate and apart from
all other mitzvos, and involves spending time thinking about Hashem and
appreciating what He does for us in His world.The more we think about Hashem, the more boundless our love and
In the Western Society (read “Golus”) in which we
live, emphasis is placed on the physical and material reality around us,
most recently, computers, cell phones, Palm Pilots®, etc.To some it may seem “childish”, to others “spiritual”, to
actually take a minute or two during the day (while taking a shower in the
morning or eating lunch, or perhaps when walking to the subway or bus, or
before retiring at night) to think, feel and appreciate Hashem’s gifts to
us.We can start with reflecting
upon our knowledge-filled heads and then work our way down slowly to the
toes we can wiggle when necessary.Do
not be surprised if the words “Thank You, Hashem” emerge spontaneously
from your lips from time to time.
As the Rambam testifies, this is the where and the how
our forefather, Avrohom Avinu, started his trek to greatness and how
concomitantlyK’lal Yisroel began its eternal journey through
history and mankind.This is the
origin of our legacy and sacred trust.Be
a part of it.It only requires
some inner reflection.If you
feel lost as to how to begin or are in need of some assistance or guidance
in this area, the Chovos Halevovos, Sha’ar HaBechina (published by
Feldheim Publishers in English as Duties of the Heart (Gate of
Reflection)) will certainly be a great tool.
Now, taking a step back, perhaps this is the great
lesson of Sukkos as the culmination of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur—that
we look up from our humble little booth and recognize that a few rain
showers during the Yom Tov pale starkly in comparison to the brochos that
Hashem showers upon us daily.
Practical Suggestion:Keep a short written record of your daily reflections - and have
a great Year!