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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



MEZUZAH REMINDER! Contrary to a mistaken belief, Mezuzahs do not have to be checked twice in seven years--but rather, according to Halacha, once in 3 and one-half years. This means that if you checked your Mezuzos four years ago--it is ‘not ok’ and the Mezuzahs should be checked immediately. We recommend that, if you can, you should have the Sofer come to your home (even if it costs more) and check the Mezuzahs there--for in addition to an invaluable learning experience for you/your family, he can also check the placement--and the possible need or non-need for a Mezuzah in a particular location. If your community does not have this availability, we can suggest some Sofrim who may travel from NYC if there is sufficient request....The Mitzvah of Mezuzah is so precious that we mention it twice EVERY TIME we recite Kriyas Shema--day and night--let us do our utmost to excel in its performance!



1.  We find that Yitzchak Avinu finally digs a well which the Plishtim do not dispute--and so he calls the place Rechovos--Ki Atta Hirchiv Hashem Lanu--for now Hashem has granted us ample space.... (Bereishis 26:22).  Yet, in the very next Pasuk we learn VaYa’al Misham Be’er Sheva--and Yitzchak went up from there to Be’er Sheva!  Why did Yitzchak Avinu seemingly immediately leave--if he had just found and founded an indisputable place for his family to dwell?

2.  Who said “B'ruch Hashem” in this week's Parsha?

3.  Why did Yitzchak Avinu need food in order to be able to give a bracha to his son?

4.  There is a custom in some Shuls to sell one of the Aliyos in this week’s Parsha--which one and why?

5.  At the end of the Parsha, we learn that Aisav married Yishmael’s daughter--Machalas--and we derive from this name that a Chassan and Kallah are Mochul--forgiven for their past iniquities on the date of their wedding (of course Teshuva must be done).  Why would we learn something so important from a Shidduch which involves the joining of none other than Yishmael and Eisav (of whom we specifically recite in Selichos--Kalei Seir VeChosno)?!




Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q It was raining and thundering this morning, and I made a brocha for lightning and thunder. Now (later the same day) it started raining and thundering again.  Should I make another brocha for the thunder and lightning?

A. If there are two thunderstorms in one day--i.e. the sky clears and the sun comes out, then a second thunderstorm occurs--a second brocha will be required for the lightning and the thunder of the new storm. (Shulchan A 227.2)


Additional Note on Brachos: In compiling the thoughts of Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim, the Sefer HaMevarech Misborech concludes that the following are practical means to maximize the literally super-human powers contained in one’s daily brachos.  To the extent possible, one should recite them:

       a.       First thinking for a moment of “L’Mi Hu Mevorech, V’Al Ma Hu Mevorech--to Whom he is reciting the Blessing, and on what he is reciting the Blessing.”

b.      aloud

c.       slowly, with patience (even/especially if you are hungry)

d.      clearly

e.       pleasantly

f.        while not doing anything else; and

g.       sitting (for brachos over food--not for the Brachos of lightening and thunder which should preferably be made standing!).



Special Note Two:  As we reach the milestone of Yom Kippur Katan Kislev today--the first Yom Kippur Katan of 5772--we quickly realize that we are CLOSER TO CHANUKAH than we are to the Yomim Tovim of Tishrei!  We must accordingly strengthen ourselves in our Teshuva B’Chol Yom as the year moves on to its next phase.  It is our special duty to be vigilant not only in the words that we speak but in the words that we hear. When we hear certain catch phrases--we must know how to react and stymie the Lashon Hora that is about to come:  “This is how my Rebbe talks....”;  “She always....”;  “He has this...”;  “That kid gets me so angry....”;  “Listen to this (with facial expression)...”;  “I don’t want to say Lashon Hora, but....”  With a bit of prevention--we can save ourselves--and our family member, friend or acquaintance from serious sin--as a few words here and a few words there can literally make the difference in a person’s success in this world.  The Chofetz Chaim says it beautifully:  “If we are enjoined by the Torah to help our friends in monetary matters--which are relative only to this fleeting and transitory world--all the more so (‘Kamma VeChamma Kiflei Kiflaim’)  should we extend our goodness to their souls which will last for eternity!”  When we protect ourselves from Lashon Hora--we are gaining access for ourselves--and our friend--to everlasting life.  What a beautiful Avodah--an excellent Teshuva B’chol Yom example--to work on with sincerity and drive--as we take our right step forward ...to Chanukah!


Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q.  I usually wash for breakfast. This morning I ate fruit – an orange and a shiur of grapes.  Then instead of washing, I decided to have a bowl of oatmeal.  Since I usually wash, I made a mistake and out of habit, I bentsched.  When I got to the Beis Midrash 10 minutes later it hit me that I had bentsched instead of making an al hamichya and al hoetz.  I decided that since I had already bentsched, it was good b’dieved.  Was I right or wrong?


 A.  You were right, but you also were wrong.  Bentsching acknowledges Hashem’s kindness for giving us satiating foods.  Since all mezonos foods including oatmeal do satiate, it was a good brocha b’dieved for the oatmeal (M”B 208.75).  However, fruit requires a specific brocha.  Had you made an al hoetz it would have covered the orange as well.  But bentsching is totally incorrect for fruit.  So when you realized that you did not make an al hoetz, you should have made one at that time, provided that you did not exceed the time limit within which you may still make a brocha achrona. (Shulchan A 208.17).


Additional Note on Brachos:  This is a Reality Check:  How many Brachos do we recite all together--during Shacharis?  During Mincha?  During Ma’ariv?  The answers are really quite staggering.  Beginning with Al Netilas Yadayim through Shemone Esrei of Shacharis we actually recite approximately 45 Brachos (if you are male, add on two or three for Tallis and Tefillin).  At Mincha, of course, we recite 19 Brachos; and Ma’ariv together with the Bracha of HaMapil totals 25 Brachos.  Thus, in Tefillah alone we recite approximately 90 Brachos a day and just 10 additional Brachos during the day will bring us to the goal of Me’ah Brachos Bechol Yom--an incredible 36,500 (with the privilege of reciting two names of Hashem in each bracha --or 73,000 names of Hashem) per year! (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 46, seif katan 14).  


The Torah teaches (Bereishis 15:6) “VeHe’emin BaShem Vayachsheveha Lo Tzedaka--and Avraham trusted in Hashem, and Hashem considered this to be righteous.”  The Chofetz Chaim asks a stark question:  Is it simply because Avraham Avinu believed in Hashem that Hashem considered him righteous--after all, didn’t Avraham  *discover* Hashem and *introduce Him to the world*?  What was so special about his simply believing in Hashem--isn’t that something that we all are involved with and that we all express daily?  The Chofetz Chaim concludes that the concept of Emunah is so important, such an integral part of our lives and being, that--Yes--Avraham Avinu’s day-in, day-out, living Emunah was even more important than his discovery of Hashem and spreading the word!  There is something very great for us to learn here.  Our daily expressions of Emunah go to the essence of our existence, and may indeed make up a large part of how Hashem views us in this world.  What would you say is the most constant expression of your daily Emunah--an expression that goes even further than “Baruch Hashem”, “Im Yirtze Hashem” and “B’Ezras Hashem”?  It may very well be the expression of Brachos during ones Tefillos and throughout the day.  Imagine the difference in your expression of Emunah 100 times or so a day when you know that you are going to take a second out before making the bracha to stop and think of its meaning, of what you are truly trying to say!  From today and onward, our bracha to you is--may your brachos--your personal, most consistent expressions of belief, faith and trust in your life--truly be a source of bracha to you and those around you!


Postscript thought:  We find the phrase ‘Baruch Hashem’ recited by Eliezer in last week’s Parsha, who followed the ‘Baruch Keil Elyon’ recited by Malki Tzedek in Parshas Lech Lecha.  In Sefer Shemos, we will learn that Yisro also recited ‘Baruch Hashem’.  Thus, blessing Hashem is something that the B’nai Noach are eminently capable of.  We suggest that what makes us different is that we not only recite ‘Baruch Hashem’, but ‘Baruch Atah Hashem--we acknowledge the *You*--the presence of Hashem before us.  Hashem is not a Great Diety who is c’v distant or aloof, but rather He is our Hashem, whose presence we acknowledge that we stand in at all times.  Moreover, our relationship is so personal and direct that it is not chutzpa--but rather a sign of love and affection--to refer to our G-d in the ‘second person’ personal, as no one else in the world can.  When reciting a Bracha, we should note that it is not just Baruch Hashem--but Baruch Atah Hashem--- and especially rejoice with the word ‘Atah’--for it so distinguishes and elevates us from the billions in the world around us! 



Special Note Two:  Let us begin a glimpse into the coming Parsha--Toldos.  At the end of the Parsha (Bereishis 46:7), the Torah records that Vayishma Yaakov El Aviv V’El Imo --and Yaakov listened to his father and to his mother, and went to Padan Aram .  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in his Sefer Ta’ama DiKra notes that the Torah specifically records that Yaakov listened to his father and to his mother in order to teach us that a person should recognize that when he listens to both of his/her parents--he could actually fulfill two Mitzvos--one of Kibbud Av, and a second one of Kibbud Aim--as the Torah requires us not to simply listen to our “Horim”(“Respect Your Parents”)--but rather to properly honor each of our parents!  When one brings a glass of tea to each of his parents, or visits them, or separately quotes them--his Mitzvos abound!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q: What is the brocha for avocado?


A: Avocado grows on a tree, so when eaten alone the brocha is borei pri hoetz and borei nefoshos.  However, if it is sliced or cubed and mixed into a salad, consisting mostly of hoadoma produce, the hoadoma made on the salad will exempt the avocado, as well. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 68).


Additional Note One on Brachos:  Yesterday, we referenced the two people who said “Baruch Hashem” in last week’s Parsha, and the different meaning and intent that each of them had.  We received the following insightful response from a reader:  “Only Eliezer said “Baruch HaSh-m.”  Lavan said “B’ruch HaSh-m,” which has a very different meaning.  The baal dikduk in me can’t help but noticing that Eliezer said “Baruch HaSh-m” in the classical sense – thanking HaSh-m for something.  Lavan simply noted that Eliezer (whom he presumed to have been Avraham, but that’s neither here nor there), was a “B’ruch HaSh-m” – meaning, a blessed of HaSh-m.  It was not a statement of thanks to HaSh-m; rather, it was a praise to Eliezer that he was fortunate and blessed by HaSh-m.” 


Hakhel Response:  Thank you for the point, but the fact remains that Lavan did add the words ‘b’ruch HaSh-m”--indicating that he knew full well where Bracha came from, and intended to praise his guest, in a wonderful way.  The word ‘Baruch’ is typically translated as either: (i) ‘blessed’, which is a language of Shevach, of praise; or (ii) Mekor HaBerachos--that Hashem is the Source of Everything.  When Eliezer was praised as a ‘b’ruch HaSh-m’--both of these definitions not only serve to describe Eliezer’s lofty position--but also the One from Whom he attained that position!


Additional Note Two on Brachos:  Another response from a reader:  “Since we are discussing Brochos and thanking/praising Hashem, perhaps some chizuk on the concept of thanking Hashem constantly and not complaining c’v would be an idea. See Ta’anis Daf 8 - R. Yehoshua ben Levi says that one who is “someyach” in yisurin that come upon him brings yeshua to the WORLD. Conversely, we know what happened in the Midbar when we cried (a complaining cry). If you have a Sefer to suggest would be very appreciative. Right now I am learning “The Garden of Gratitude” by Rabbi Arush. It has helped me tremendously!”



Special Note Two:  We received the following response from a reader as to why the Midrash learns from Eliezer that one must demonstrate thanks to Hashem upon hearing a Besorah Tova: “Really, you can ask a better question; the Gemorah (Brochos 7b) tell us that from the time the world was created, no one gave thanks, until Leah gave thanks (when Yehuda was born). How does this Gemorah fit with this Midrash Rabba?  Furthermore, you ask that we already learned this from Avraham Avinu himself when he was told by Hashem that his descendants would receive Eretz Yisroel (Bereishis 12:7).  However, you can ask that we already see this from Noach (Bereishis 8:20), so what are Chazal telling us with Eliezer?  The Ksav Sofer  explains the Gemorah in Brochos, that indeed people did express thanks to Hashem before Leah. However those expressions of thanks were for Nissim. Leah, on the other hand was the first person to give thanks for something purely natural, such as childbirth.  This Ksav Sofer  would explain Noach, Avraham Avinu & Eliezer, as those were ALL showing thanks for Nissim. However, it doesn’t really explain why we would learn thanks from Eliezer, when Chazal could have learned the same thing from Noach.”


Hakhel Response: We may suggest another answer to our question, which could answer the Ksav Sofer’s question and the question you are left with.  Noach, Avraham Avinu, and Leah were all expressing great thanks to Hashem for the goodness that He had given to them.  Eliezer’s expression of thanks was, however, very different.  He was thanking Hashem for a Besorah Tova for the benefit of another, from which he did not benefit at all.  Indeed, quite to the contrary, because Yitzchak had a wife, Avraham could have future generations, which meant that Avraham’s great wealth would not be bequeathed to Eliezer.  Moreover, the fact that Rivka was to become Yitzchak’s wife with certainty now destroyed any hope that Eliezer had for Yitzchak to marry his daughter.  Nevertheless, and despite all of this, Eliezer thanked Hashem for the Besorah Tova--for the good news to another.  Certainly, then, in situations where we hear of the Simcha or good news of a friend we should remember the lesson of Eliezer--and express thanks to Hashem for the good news of another, very much as if it was one’s own! 



Special Note Three:  Two very important points to remember in your daily speech:


Question 1:  How can a person violate TWO MITZVOS LO SA’ASEH --to speak Lashon Hora and to receive Lashon Hora--simultaneously?  Shocking Answer:  By merely uttering the words “I agree” to one who has just spoken Lashon Hora to you, or in fact even by merely nodding affirmatively to a Lashon Hora comment makes you both a speaker and an accepter of Lashon Hora .


Question 2:  How can one expunge the Lashon Hora that he has just believed--and thereby undo the issur of Kabbalas Lashon Hora that he has committed?  Relieving Answer:  By finding a way to now be Dan the person who you have accepted the Lashon Hora against LeChaf Zechus--so that even if the story was indeed true about him --there was a legitimate basis for what he had done. The original belief is thereby rendered innocuous!



Special Note Four:  Before we take leave of Parshas Chayei Sora, two notes:


a.  A reader had inquired as to why many Siddurim, immediately after Hallel, bring the Posuk (from last week’s Parsha) of VeAvraham ZaKein Bah Bayamim VaHashem Beirach Es Avrohom BaKol…and Avrohom was elderly, coming with his days, and Hashem blessed Avrohom with everything.” What does this Pasuk have to do with Hallel?  In point of fact, it is the Shelah HaKadosh writes that reciting this Posuk after Hallel is a Segulah for Ariychus Yamim.  We can well understand that the Posuk describes Avrohom Avinu’s Ariychus Yamim--but how does that translate into Ariychus Yamim for us?  We may suggest that by reciting Hallel, we recognize the Source of all Life, and to Whom all thanks and appreciation is due.  This was truly Avrohom Avinu’s mission to the world.  By following in his footsteps, we too can be zoche to the long life that accompanies one who is properly fulfilling his mission in this world.  Additional Note:  Get ready for this Sunday--Rosh Chodesh…and Hallel!


b.  Why is Efron frowned upon as a money-hungry merchant, while Chiram the King of Tzor who was so handsomely paid for the materials he provided to build the First Bais HaMikdash, was nevertheless considered to be so virtuous that he was zoche to miraculously live for as long as the first Bais Hamikdash stood?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita answers that like so many other things in life IT IS ALL A MATTER OF INTENT.  Chiram really did what he did to build the Bais HaMikdash--the money was nice, very nice--but it was secondary.  Efron’s first goal was the money--although he also wanted to show respect to Avraham Avinu, as well.  Thus, while a person may believe that his thoughts are locked into his mind--and are--at most--limited  to his relationship with Hashem who knows all thoughts, this may not be the case at all.  The after-effects of a person’s Kavannos and the mark they leave on this world may be demonstrated to all through the results of the very actions that were taken from those ‘private’ thoughts that may not really not so private after all.  We are all familiar with the Chofetz Chaim’s advice to the pharmacist--when filling the prescription make it your primary goal to help the sick patient, and also take the full price.  You are then Osek BeMitzvah and being paid for it--as opposed to earning a good living and secondarily helping people while you’re at it.  We are to live in two worlds --Olam HaZeh and Olam Haba--but they are not equal--and we have to put one ahead of the other.  The choice is ours.  Every task as mundane as it may seem during the day has so much potential in it--where will we steer ourselves in its performance--where will we put the LeSheim Yichud?!  As we move through our day’s duties, if we could put the Olam Haba--LeSheim Mitzvah, LeSheim Shomayim focus on it--we will do much to move towards previously ordinary and now truly exemplary actions--which accurately reflect upon the beautiful thoughts behind them!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK ONE :  As one can see from the end of the Parsha, Eliezer had men who accompanied him on his journey, yet, there is no apparent reference to them in the Pesukim in terms of Rivka’s Chesed.  According to the Pesukim, she drew water for Eliezer, and for the camels that accompanied him.  What happened to the ostensibly thirsty men who needed her Chesed as well--did they not get drinks?



QUESTION OF THE WEEK TWO:  When Eliezer saw that the Shidduch was going through, the Pasuk records that he bowed down to Hashem.  Rashi brings the Midrash Rabba on these words as follows:  “From here (from Eliezer’s bowing) we learn that one must give thanks to Hashem upon hearing good news.”  Would we not know this by ourselves--isn’t this self understood?  Moreover, if we need to learn it from a Pasuk--did we not already learn it from Avraham Avinu himself when he was told by Hashem that his descendents would receive Eretz Yisroel (Bereishis 12:7).  Why do we have to learn, or relearn this from Eliezer--the Eved of Avraham?




Special Note One:  Regarding Shidduchim, a reader noted that if one would redt a Shidduch for a Ger or a Giores, then in addition to the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha, he/she would also fulfill the Mitzvah of Vehavtem Es HaGer--demostrating special affection for one who went through so much to achieve--what you may take for granted.



Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: I wanted to come to Seder on time today, and I did, but it seems that I forgot to bentsch.  Am I allowed to bentch now in the Beis HaMidrash?


A: First of all, if you exceeded shiur ikul (the time it takes for digestion to begin) then there is nothing to talk about--the opportunity to bentsch has been lost (Halachos of Brochos, p. 156).  If you are within the shiur, then l’chatchila you are required to bentsch where you ate (Shulchan Aruch 194.1).  Therefore, if you can find some bread in the Beis HaMidrash (e.g., in the coffee room) you should eat a small piece of bread, even less than a k’zayis (M.B. 194.9).  You should wash, but do not recite netilas yodayim, then make hamotzi, and then bentsch there (Halachos of Brochos pg 283, and 291).  If you do not have bread, and it is not inconvenient, it is preferable to return to the original location and bentsch there.  However, if you have no bread, and returning to the original location is very inconvenient, b’deived, you may bentsch in the Beis HaMidrash. (Halachos of Brochos p. 291).



Additional Note One on Brachos:  The Ben Yehoyada writes that one who is careful to make 100 Brachos every day will ‘bevadai’--with certainty--readily attain Yiras Shomayim--Ki Yeskadeish Al Yedei HaMe’ah Brachos--for one will sanctify himself through reciting 100 Brachos.


Additional Note Two on Brachos:  In last week’s Parsha, we find two very diverse people who expressly recited the words Boruch Hashem during the course of the Parsha--but for very diverse reasons.  There is a great lesson to be gleaned here--no two Brachos are the same, and each bracha very much depends on a person’s particular needs and station in life.  Accordingly, the bracha one recites at any specific point during the day is very much personal to him/her--and one can view it as a particular time of Hashgacha Pratis--a special and privileged moment of individual relationship with Hashem. 



Special Note Three:  Chazal teach that each and every one of us are obligated to say the words “Masai Yagia Ma’asai LeMa’asheh Avosai, LeMa’asei Avrohom Yitzchok VeYaakov”--when will my deeds reach those of my forefathers--the deeds of Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov.  HaRav Yaakov Naiman, Z’tl, provides the following explanations to this extremely important teaching:


1.  A person must aspire to reach the level of the Avos.  Even if this may seem impossible, the desire and ambition must be there.  Indeed, he continues, Napoleon is reported to have said that a soldier who does not aspire to become a general--will not succeed even at being a good foot soldier. 


2.  One should actually place an emphasis on what one has learned from the ma’asim of the Avos in Sefer Bereishis--to treat guests with great respect, to run to do Mitzvos, to daven for others…TO TAKE SPECIFIC AND REAL ACTION to bring the world to perfection.



Special Note One:  Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: My wife is expecting and finds it difficult to eat bread. We are at a family sheva brochos and she felt obligated to wash. She washed, ate a tiny bit of the challah roll, then nibbled on it throughout the meal but did not eat a k’zayis within the span of 6 minutes. What is she supposed to do now?


A: Bentsching is required only if a k’zayis of bread is eaten within k’dei achilas praas. Since this did not happen, she is not required nor permitted to bentsch. (Halachos of Brochos pg. 283). Normally when you wash for bread the bentsching covers all the other foods eaten during the meal. In your case, since your wife did not eat the minimum choshuv amount of bread, the other foods were not covered by the hamotzi and will not be covered by the bentsching.  You should tell her to make a brocha achrona for any foods that she may have eaten during the meal, providing that she ate a k’zayis of those foods within k’dei achilas praas. (Halachos of Brochos pg 96).


Additional Note on Brachos:  The Rabbeinu Bachya writes in the Sefer Kad HaKemach that one should place Kavannah Bechol Ma’amatzei Kocho--with all of his might--into his/her Brachos--for they are the Ikar HaYesod VeHaEmunah…for which a person is called a Tzaddik!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 women.  Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. Last year, we provided the questions to the first 40 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions.


**PLEASE NOTE** Rabbi Webster’s Shiur, which this year is on the Halachos of Kashrus in the Kitchen has now moved to the Agudah of 18th Ave, 5413 18th Avenue.  It is on Wednesday mornings from 10AM to 11AM, and admission is free.


41. Is one permitted to use sea salt on hot solid food? Due to the fact that sea salt is not cooked , one should not add it to hot solid food.


42. If one took off a soup lid  from a pot that was on the blech and put it on the counter can one re-cover the hot soup with this pot cover? An uncovered pot of partially cooked food may not be covered with a pot lid as this would speed up the cooking process. The lid holds in the heat and allows the food to cook faster, which is an act of Bishul. Therefore great care must be taken not to lift the lid off such a pot, as it would be prohibited to return the lid. However, one may cover a pot of fully cooked food, even if by covering it one increases the bubbling. If one wishes to check the cholent on Friday night, one must make sure that it is fully cooked before the lid is removed.


 Due to the condensation that is collected in the lid, one should dry off the lid before re-covering the pot. However, if the liquid in the lid is still warm than one does not need to dry it first.


43. How should one make coffee on Shabbos?

 A cup of coffee should be made on Shabbos in the following way:
1) Take a dry cup. If the cup was rinsed first, it should be dried.
2) Fill the dry cup with hot water from the kettle or urn.
The hot water should then be poured into a second cup (a Keli Shlishi) in which one then puts the coffee granules. There are opinions that allow instant coffee, milk and sugar to be added to a Keli Sheni, however it is always preferable to use a Keli Shlishi.


44. If one forgot to make tea essence before Shabbos how can one make it on Shabbos?

 One should not immerse a tea bag or tea leaves into hot water that is Yad Soledes Bo even in a Keli Shlishi. However,  one is permitted to immerse the tea bag  into a cup of water that is not Yad Soledes Bo and than add it to a cup of water that is a Keli Shlishi. 
 Hagoan Harav Moshe Feinsteim ZT”L was of the opinion that one may make tea on Shabbos using a tea bag inside a Keli Shlishi. (However, as stated above this is not the consensus of the Poskim) As regards removing the tea bag, one should not remove it with one's fingers but with a spoon. Furthermore, one should not squeeze the bag upon removal from the cup


45. If one wants to reheat a solid piece of meat on Shabbos morning how can it be done?

The following foods may be placed on the top of a Keli Rishon even though it is standing on the fire:
Any fully cooked dry solid, either hot or cold; e.g., cold meat, potatoes, Kugel, or Challos may be placed on top of a pot. If meat is being placed on a Pareve kettle, care should be taken to put the meat on a plate so that there is no contact with the kettle.
A liquid that has been fully cooked and that has cooled but still remains warm/hot (although not Yad Soledes Bo) may be placed on top of the pot.



Special Note Three:  The following Question and Answer was answered by the Rav of a Shul who is also a nationally renowned expert in the field of Kashrus: 


Q:  One’s child purchased and ate potato chips with a questionable Hashgacha, although they were old enough to have chosen an acceptable Kosher product.  Can they rely on the questionable Hashgacha and consider the food Kosher BeDieved--or do they have to do Teshuva?  Additionally, the bag was shared with siblings--would the siblings have to do Teshuva as well?


A:  Potato chips are a real issue, for there are various products that are produced on the same machines, including products made with non-Kosher cheeses.  A questionable Hashgacha cannot be relied upon at all in such circumstances.  One’s Teshuva should be to be extremely careful in the future, and not simply grab a bag that looks familiar--but actually check for a symbol that is acceptable in your family.  The siblings who ate the questionable product should likewise be advised--and all should be told that “it does not matter how hungry you are.”  Remember, the label should be checked each time--as Hashgachos and perhaps dairy designations may change--even if you are very much used to purchasing the product.



Special Note Four:  In the first Pasuk of Shema Yisroel every day, we recite Hashem’s name three times.  The Sefer Chovos HaLevavos writes that with the recitation of each of the three words, one should have a particular Yeshod HaEmunah in mind: 


Hashem--The reality of Hashem’s existence.


Elokeinu--To believe that He is our G-d [Who watches over us with Hashgacha Pratis].


Hashem Echad--He is Truly One [unified in all aspects of His Existence, although there are so many different aspects of creation--night and day, cold and heat, fire and water, etc.--all of which emanate from His Oneness].



Special Note Five:  The following is adapted from Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (Page 52-53).


“And the life of Sara was one hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years.  These were the years of the life of Sara.” (Beraishis 23:1)


Rashi comments that, by the Torah segregating the years of Sara’s life, it teaches us that she enjoyed every year of her life.  Yet, the previous Parshios seem to depict how much she had suffered in her life.  For many years she was childless; she experienced severe famine; she was exiled across the Middle East and even within Eretz Canaan; she was taken captive by Paroh and later by Avimelech; and she was even looked down upon by her very own maidservant.  Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli, Z’TL, explains that the Torah is teaching us a great lesson.  Because Sara knew that all of her personal life’s events were for her benefit, she was able to evaluate each one in a positive light.


The Torah ideal is to be aware that the purpose of life is to perfect your character, and every life situation is an opportunity for growth.  Sara mastered this level of awareness.  Therefore, at the end of her life, which was constantly devoted to growth, it could be said about her that all her years were good.  This lesson is most important for us to internalize.  See the growth possible in every life event.  In each difficult situation ask yourself, “How can I become a better person because of what happened?”



Special Note Six:  “And Lavan and Besuel answered ‘From Hashem has the matter come’” (Bereishis 24:50).  Astounding.  This simple and straightforward statement, perhaps something we (hopefully) recite constantly to ourselves, or perhaps to our close relatives or friends, is openly affirmed by none other than Lavan and Besuel!  Yes, by Lavan and Besuel, those money-grubber of great note, the renowned world-class idol worshippers.  Yes, it was they whose first reaction to Eliezer’s request for Rivka to become Yitzchak’s wife was “This is from Hashem.”  We must ask ourselves--How could this be?  What had changed within them in the few brief moments of their encounter with Eliezer?  If we look at Eliezer’s words to them we may glean a better insight.  In his brief discourse, no less than five times does Eliezer specifically refer to Hashem as his hope and trust, as the source of all of life and life’s events, as the Master of all.  He is not intimidated by his company, feels no need to “make nice”, does not “talk their language”.  Rather, he sincerely expresses his belief, openly declares his faith, and unabashedly avers that our lives and everything about them are in G-d’s hands.  His genuine sincerity not only strengthened his faith, but made an incredible impact on even the crème de la crème of the wicked.


There is a great lesson to be learned here.  We must be upstanding and resolute in declaring that we are, absolutely and unwaveringly, openly and expressly, dedicated to our beliefs.  In order to develop this pure, dedicated, wholesome resoluteness within us, it may be a good idea to express some of the Thirteen Principles of Ani Ma’amin from time to time to those around you without fear or shame.  It is truly surprising how often these values can come up in, or be added to, the course of a regular or everyday conversation.


If Eliezer could have this effect on Lavan and Besuel--Oh, what we can accomplish!



Special Note Seven:  In the Parsha, we learn that Yitzchock Avinu was consoled after the passing of his mother, Sara (Bereishis 24:16).  In fact, the Rambam brings the mitzvah of performing Chesed, which is based upon V’Ahavta Lereacha Komocha, in Hilchos Aveil, the Laws of Mourning (14:1).  When one properly comforts a mourner, he is doing a Chesed to both the living, and the departed (ibid., 14:7).  As great as providing comfort may be, finding the right words to say may be even more difficult.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 376:2) importantly tells us what one should not say. “Do not say, however, ‘What can one do, one cannot change what happened,’ for that is not consolation but blasphemy.”  The Aruch HaShulchan (ibid., at paragraph 5 ) explains that making such a statement implies that one must resign yourself to what happened against his will, rather than comforting the mourner with words of faith, with words that Hashem loves us all and that only He, in His infinite wisdom knows what is best.  HaRav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch, Z’TL, echoes this thought and adds that it “is the murmuring of the helpless against his helplessness, not the recognition of the blessed wisdom of G-d” (Horeb page 433, cited in Love Your Neighbor, page 93).


HaRav Feivel Cohen, Shlita, in the Sefer Badei HaShulchan on Hilchos Aveilus (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 376:2, seif 27) extends this thought and writes that it is prohibited to make any kind of statement such as “What can one do?” to anyone who is in any kind of difficult situation, in any Tzara, whatsoever.  Obviously, one can daven, learn Torah, do mitzvos and especially Chesed, as a zechus for oneself or others--but one should never chas v’shalom, question Hashem’s Supreme Judgment.



Special Note Eight: We find the brocha (Bereishis 24:60)given by Rivka’s family to her prior to her departure--a huge brocha that came true!  This is yet another example of how powerful brachos can be--even if they do not come from the best of sources.  All the more so, when the brocha comes from a Talmid Chacham or Tzaddik.  One never knows when they may meet a Tzaddik or Talmid Chacham; accordingly, one should always have his thoughts organized as to what brochos he would ask for when the opportunity arises!



 Special Note Nine: We also find in this week’s Parsha that Yitzchok Avinu instituted the Tefillah of Mincha (Bereishis 24:63).  The Piskei Teshuvos (2:232) writes that Tefillas Mincha is unique.  When one davens Shacharis, he clearly has in mind to thank Hashem for returning his Neshama to him, and at Maariv he knows that he will soon be placing his soul into Hashem’s trust for the evening.  At Mincha, however, his prayers are, as the word Mincha implies, an unfettered gift--a free will offering--with neither of these thoughts in mind.  Moreover, one understands that he davens Shacharis upon his arising in the morning, and Maariv upon the arrival of darkness.  However, Mincha is recited in the middle of the busy workday, and a person leaves all of his thoughts and actions--and prays.  It is for this reason that the Tur (ibid.) writes that one’s reward will be very great for davening Mincha with Kavannah.  Indeed, it is telling that Yitzchak Avinu, the Av who symbolizes Avodah VeYirah--service and fear of Hashem--especially instituted Mincha of the three daily prayers.  Let us take the lesson from the Parsha--and dedicate the next week to a more pristine, focused and sincere Mincha prayer.



Special Note One:  From a Reader:  "The Mishna Berurah you brought on the importance of keeping your Tallis and Tefillin with you on 'short trips' out of the city is demonstrated by the Shabbos snow storm in October jut a few short weeks  ago.  Many were left without power, trees were downed, streets were closed, and travel was treacherous in places--all within a matter of hours.  I live in Brooklyn --and had a Shabbos guest from nearby Queens .  When the storm was severe on Shabbos, he suddenly looked to me and said:  'I didn't bring my Tefillin--I just came for Shabbos, not for Sunday!'  The rest is history...one cannot be wiser than the Mishna Berurah!"



Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q I keep hearing that there is a problem with eating granola bars, what is the problem?


A. Granola is made of sliced oats which are toasted.  When oats are cooked (e.g., oatmeal) or milled into flour and made into baked products, they satiate, and are therefore subject to the brocha rishona and brocha achrona for mezonos.  There is no problem with brocha rishona for roasted grain (which the Shulchan Aruch calls “kloyos”).  Since roasted grains do not satiate as much as cooked grain or baked products, it would not be correct to call them mezonos. Therefore the brocha is borei pri hoadoma.  The problem is that Chazal never created a text for the brocha achrona for kloyos (there is no text of “al hoadoma”).  Al hamichya or al hoetz are obviously not appropriate.  Since granola grains should have a choshuv brocha achrona, but we have no text for such a brocha, the Shulchan Aruch states that a yorei shomayim should only eat kloyos during the course of a bread meal to avoid the need to make a brocha achrona (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 208.4).  Alternatively, you can also eat less than a k’zayis, which will avoid the need to make a brocha achrona (e.g., Nature Valley packages contain 2 granola bars.  Eat less than ¾ of one of those bars, wait 6 minutes before eating another ¾.). (Halachos of K’zayis pg 130).


Additional Note One:  Another point beautifully put in The Law of Brachos by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita: “HaKaras HaTov is an important element of a bracha.  A bracha does express gratitude. But it does so by expressing the strength of the relationship between man and Hashem. One can walk away from a “thank you” with relative ease. A Bracha, however, binds man forever to Hashem, Who is everlasting.”


Additional Note Two:  The following (almost) incredulous story relating to the words MELECH HAOLAM in every bracha is taken from the recently published superb English Sefer Power Benching by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss.


“In order to convey the loftiness of the declaration that Hashem is King of the universe, here's a Chassidishe story.   This is sure to raise your eyebrows while reading it, but rest assured that this story is documented in many seforim and can be found in the Artscroll sefer on the Tchortkover Rebbe, to name but one source.  The Tchortkover Rebbe's court was the subject of international curiosity, for it was resplendent with many trappings of regality.  There was golden cutlery, richly embroidered tapestries, and glittering jewels everywhere.  This was a powerful statement of Kavod, the honor of the Torah, and the true royalty of Torah's champions.


Once, a secular Jewish journalist managed to get an interview with the Rebbe.  Since he wasn't a scholar, the Rebbe spoke to him about the rage of the day, which was the newly built Eiffel Tower in Paris .  In passing, the Rebbe commented that there was a remarkable skylight at the pinnacle of the tower that when sunlight shone through it, reflected the light rays to every spot on the tower.  The journalist looked in amazement at the Rebbe for he had just reported exhaustively on the Eiffel Tower and had never heard of this feature.  Respectfully, though, he didn't question the Rebbe, and the interview continued to its conclusion.  However, as soon as the journalist was out the door, he contacted his affiliates in Paris and asked them if they had heard of the skylight mentioned by the Rebbe --but no one had.  Mystified, he was determined to get to the bottom of this puzzle.  He traveled to Paris where he met the architect of the Eiffel Tower .  In this conversation, he casually inquired whether there was any type of special skylight built into the top of the tower.  The architect gazed in amazement at him.  "How could you possibly know about this?" he asked.  "We were planning to unveil this architectural and technical marvel at a later date!"  The architect then went on to admit that there was, in fact, a skylight situated at the very top of the tower, exactly as described by the Rebbe.  The journalist was awestruck!  How could the Tchortkover Rebbe, who never left the environs of Tchortkov, know about the existence of this treasured industrial trade secret?  The journalist managed to finagle a second interview with the Rebbe and asked him, point blank, how the Rebbe knew this classified information.  The Rebbe told him that it wasn't his custom to reveal such things--but he wasn't going to avoid a direct question either. Therefore, he told the journalist that when he says the words, Melech HaOlam--King of the universe, in a bracha, his soul soars above the world and appoints Hashem as King over the four corners of the globe.  In doing so, he passed over Paris , saw the Eiffel Tower , and spotted the remarkable skylight!  While we are not capable of such "globetrotting," we too can have global ideas when we say Melech HaOlam, appointing Hashem as King over everything that goes on in our vast world I and over the distant reaches of the cosmos. With our present day astronomy, we realize more than ever before-that the Universe is far more vast than man has ever known.”


Hakhel Note:  How can our recitation of the words Melech HaOlam ever be the same?!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




 Q: I came to a Bar Mitzvah, and stayed for the chicken main course but did not wash for bread. The problem is that I ran across the street to daven Mincha then came back for ice cream dessert. Do I make another brocha since I changed locations?


A: No. Since you were dining with others, the seuda continues for you when you return.  You do not lose the brocha reshona or achrona. (Shulchan A 178. Halachos of Brochos pg 145).


Additional Note:  As beautifully put in The Law of Brachos by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita, “Uttered with intent, a bracha becomes not only a powerful statement of faith. Its effect is to engender a response from Hashem Himself.  Man is not thrown to the cruel winds of nature. He is in direct contact with his Creator Who then deals with him as a subject of individual worth deserving individual scrutiny. The bracha thus creates a new reality-one in which the blessings from the Infinite Source may descend upon the one who has uttered the bracha. How appropriate is the Yiddish phrase - which has now become paraphrased into its English counterpart. Note that we never say “zog a bracha” (say or recite a bracha). It is always “mach a bracha” (make a bracha). The wisdom of the ages became part of our daily language. For it is true that we never just “say a bracha” The utterance of a bracha is a creative act. We make it happen. By testifying to our utter dependence upon Hashem, we establish the necessary condition for blessing to flow from infinite God to mortal man.



Special Note Two:  Reader Responses:

1.  “With regard to your point on the Chessed of Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah, Rav Shach, Zt’l (whose Yahrzeit was this past Sunday) asks why it is that Chazal specifically highlight Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah as two mitzvos that should be performed “b’tznius--discretely.  After all, there are plenty of other Mitzvos that Chazal could have used as an example of Chesed--b’tznius. Why pick something that seems the exact opposite of what is done “b’tznius”?  Rav Shach explains that Chazal specifically use these two examples to teach us that the Ikar Mitzvah of Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah is the feeling behind it, not the action. Simply going to a wedding and dancing, and “going to Levaya” is not necessarily the Mitzvah of Hachnosas Kallah and Halvoyas Hameis. Feeling happy for the Chosson and Kallah and feeling sad for the Aveil is what Chazal meant by using these two examples.  Chessed is not a perfunctory act--but an act that energizes the good actions of the body--with the thoughtfulness of the soul!”


2.  “Regarding your beautiful suggestion to ‘...make just one date--just one good attempt at a match--this week’. For those of us unable to do even this much, how about calling a professional Shadchan and presenting them with your idea for a shidduch?!  Hakhel Response:  Great suggestion--as many of us know shadchanim and can make the personal call.



Special Note Three:  We provide the following extremely significant quote-- can you determine its renowned source?

“Reflection on creation means becoming aware of the spiritual and physical elements of this world; its causes and effects; its rational and nonrational creatures; its inert and active materials; its inanimate objects and plants; its higher and lower parts; and realizing that the Creator assembled and ordered the world perfectly, divided it along clear lines, and made it in such a way that it points to Him and reflects Him, just as a work of craftsmanship reflects the craftsman who created it, or a house the builder who built it. You should know that the whole world is made up of the material and the spiritual, so intimately mixed and fused that each of them sustains the other, like body and soul in living creatures.”



Special Note Four:  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (12:2) provides a great lesson for us in the incredible effects of unity--or at least one’s own personal sincere attempts to obtain it:  “Before davening one should have especial kavannah to genuinely accept upon himself the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha.  For when there is separation among K’lal Yisroel below, then there is no unity in the heavens either. Conversely, when we unite with our fellow Jews below, it causes the souls above to be united--and this oneness also allows our Tefillos to become united as they reach the heavens. When our Tefillos are united, they are pleasing to Hashem.  Hakhel Note:  This demonstration of Bain Odom LeChaveiro, then, directly branches to Bain Odom LeMakom--and produces huge gains--Bain Odom LeAtzmo!



Special Note Five:  The following notes on Tefillas HaDerech are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 110):

A.  The Mishna Berurah (seif katan 19) brings that although Tefillas HaDerech is expressed mostly Belashon Rabbim--in the plural, the words ‘Us’naini lechain’ should remain in the singular (it is not a mistake in the Siddurim)!  The Magein Avraham explains that the reason we use the plural is because “it is not possible that there is not a traveler somewhere else in the world at the same time whom you can pray for as well and which thereby causes your tefillah to be more accepted” [see previous Special Note!]--and the reason for the unique switch to the singular for one word is simply al pi sod.


B.  It is possible that one can be yotzei Tefillas HaDerech on a bus through a ramkol.  Although the Minchas Yitzchak and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, do not allow it, it is brought in the name of the Chazon Ish and Igros Moshe that one perhaps could be yotzei. Accordingly, one must consult with his Rav--or come to the Hakhel Shiur on Thursday November 24th--when Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita will be discussing this very issue! 

Additional Note:  Even if one can be yotzei in this way, many Poskim (including HaRav Vozner, Shlita and HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita) hold that, because Tefillas HaDerech is a Bakashas Rachamim--a request for mercy--it should preferably be recited by each individual separately.  Additionally, if one is going to be yotzei with someone else, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that it should be someone who is still obligated to recite the Tefillah--and not someone who was already yotzei and just reciting it for you.


C.  If one began reciting Tefillas HaDerech by heart and realizes that he does not remember the exact Nusach--HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita rules that if he mentions in his tefillah a request for:”Hatzlachaso Vehatzalaso Mipegah Ra” --then he can conclude the bracha, even if he did not recite the remainder of the Nusach correctly.


D.  The Mishna Berurah (seif katan 20) rules that one must take his Tallis and Tefillin with him whenever he is Yotzei Ladetrech--even if the place he is traveling to is close and he intends to return the same day.  [HaRav Kanievsky learns that this does not include a trip within a city--but it otherwise includes short trips.]  The Mishna Berurah strongly writes that one who does not follow his ruling has an “Avon Gadol” on his hands--as he may very well end up having to wear someone else’s Tefillin which don’t fit properly, or daven after the zeman because he has to wait for someone else’s Tefillin.


E.  For trips on a boat which are longer than one day, one should consult with his Rav as to the recitation of Tefillas HaDerech every day--although in other circumstances Tefillas Haderech is generally required every morning of a journey.



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q: My apartment is being painted, and there is a very strong foul odor of paint wafting into the kitchen. I am about to eat lunch. May I make a brocha in the kitchen, or must I go upstairs where there is no odor? 


A: You may make the brocha and eat your lunch in the kitchen. Although a brocha may not be made where there is a strong odor, this only applies to a foul odor from waste material such as dirty diapers, a stuffed, overflowing bathroom, or rotting garbage. Chemical odors, no matter how unpleasant, do not prevent us from making a brocha. (M”B 79.23. Halachos of Brochos p. 27).


Additional Note:  Consider the following well:  "A child of three can say “thank you” to his parent, especially if the parent instructs the child to do so. As the person grows in his wisdom, experience and sensitivity, his appreciation deepens, and his expressions of gratitude are no longer something he does by rote. As a wise and sensitive adult, he can express his gratitude in a meaningful way.


Many three year-old children recite brachos. What a lost opportunity it would be if a person expressed his gratitude to Hashem thousands of times in his lifetime, with the sensitivity and depth of a three year old.


Growth starts by simply considering the meaning of the words of a brocha."


(Halachos of Brochos p. 2)



Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah uses special language to record the Tefillah of Avraham Avinu.  The Torah teaches that Avraham was “Odenu Omeid Lifnei Hashem--still standing before Hashem.”  The Meforshim emphasize that these words teach us how one is to view his position in prayer.  He is an Omed Lifnei Hashem--one who stands before Hashem, one who supplicates before Him, and one who expresses his thanks before Him.  During davening, each time we stand, we should recall these words--that we are not only to stand--but to stand before Hashem! 



Special Note Three: Another especially important point made by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, at the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah on Friday:  It is important not only to do Chesed but to become a Ba’al Chessed.  A Ba’al Chessed is not necessarily someone who has money at all, but who is someone who sees the need and acts upon it.  For instance, he not only says “Assusa”, “Gezhuntheit” etc. when someone sneezes--but also pushes over the box of tissues.  Rabbi Weiss related a telling incident which had occurred to him personally. He was running back to the supermarket to return a shopping cart, after having done some last-minute shopping for Shabbos.  He saw a non-Jewish woman walking towards the supermarket and he said to her “Here is a cart”, and she responded “I don’t need it”, even though, she was walking towards the supermarket anyway, and his rush to get it back was obvious.  A Ba’al Chessed would have perceived the obvious the need, and whether or not he needed the cart--and most certainly if he was going in that direction--would have returned the cart--and even offered to do so without even being asked.  In order to train his young children in this area, Rabbi Weiss made a point of giving them extra snacks or drinks and told them to give it privately to someone else who did not bring snack that day.  We can apply this extremely significant Middah in many ways--in the most extraordinary and most ordinary of situations! 


Additional Note One:  Rabbi Weiss always puts his own extraordinary efforts--a true measure of heart and soul into all of his Shiurim.  He gives a daily Mishna Yomis Shiur on Kol HaLashon (15 minutes or less), which can be accessed directly by calling 718-906-6471. 


Additional Note Two:  In the coming week’s Parsha, Chayei Sarah, we learn even more about Chesed and how to perform it properly.  The Parsha specifically details two distinct Chassadim--that of Halvoyas Hameis and of Shidduchim/Hachnosas Kallah.  These two kinds of Chesed would appear to be the most public types of Chesed possible.  The deceased is eulogized and buried in public, and one usually comforts mourners when there are other (sometimes many other) people around.  Chasunahs also typically involve large gatherings of diverse people.  Yet, Chazal (Sukkah 49B), based upon the Posuk in Micha (6:8), specifically highlight Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah as two mitzvos that should be performed “b’tznius--discretely”.  Rashi there explains that one need not necessarily weep in public, nor on the other hand, balance three balls on his nose, in order to demonstrate that he truly feels the pain or, hopefully, the joy of another.  It is up to us to think about how we can truly empathize, or truly rejoice, with another without the world, or a good part of it, having to know about it.


Let us now focus for a moment on the first step--the necessary prerequisite--for Hachnosas Kallah, which is the sometimes easy, but usually not so easy--the process of finding a bashert.  The Torah incredibly goes out of its way to teach not only how Yitzchok Avinu was paired with Rivka, but also how Adam was given Chava, Yaakov Avinu introduced to Rochel, and Moshe Rabeinu to Tziporah.  It is rare (to say the least) for the Torah to repeat one kind of event, albeit important, more than once.  Here, however, the basic reason for the repetition seems clear:  the primary importance of shidduchim as a basis for humanity, and for the continuation of Klal Yisroel.  In assisting others--whether they are immediate family, distant family, friends or acquaintances, to find their zivug hagun--their proper mate, we are participating directly in a most sublime Chesed.  As far as we know, the only human state that the Torah expressly calls “not good” is for man to be alone (Bereishis 2:18 ).  If we are truly looking to help others, we should certainly help them to rid themselves of a “not good” status.  Moreover, if it is not good for them, it is not good for us, because all of our lives, and all of K’lal Yisroel, are inextricably bound together.


Each one of us is probably familiar with at least one couple who were each other’s first date.  The much more common experience, however, is the difficulty and struggle of mixing and matching--especially for those who are not well-connected and are too kind to hound family, friends, and/or Shadchonim with their frustrations and their needs.  So, what can we do?  We are not professional Shadchonim, we are not social butterflies, and we barely have the time to take care of our own little needs, let alone having the time to actually work on, and sometimes convince, two families that your recommendation is solid, or two “out-of-towners” to “go out” with each other.


Our modest proposal:  As this week is the Parsha of Shidduchim, and, as Chazal teach that privately performed Chesed is especially meaningful, we suggest that you, together with your spouse or close friends, undertake b’li neder, to make just one date--just one good attempt at a match--this week.  Let the Torah, let the actions of our Avos, let your G-d-given and inspired feelings for others be your inspiration.


This week’s Parsha is before us.  It is talking to us.  The task may be daunting, time-consuming and embarrassing--but this really means that your efforts are all the more worthwhile.


Note:  If you are unsure about what to say in proposing a Shidduch, we highly recommend and urge you to contact the Chofetz Chaim Shmiras Halashon Shaila Hotline at 718-951-3696.


May our Year be replete with…“Mazel-Tov!!”



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: Someone sent us a fancy fruit basket with some exotic fruit like passion fruit. I haven’t eaten a passion fruit this year for sure. Do I make a Shehechiyanu?


A: The Poskim explain that the voluntary Shehechiyanu is not simply an expression of gratitude to Hashem for giving us the pleasure of a new fruit or new garment, rather it is a much deeper expression of gratitude. The new fruit is a symbol – it is an opportunity to thank Hashem for giving us life, and for sustaining us and bringing us to yet another new season. However, in modern times, storage and transportation advances enable us to enjoy most types of produce throughout the year, diminishing the benefit and happiness we used to feel every new fruit season. This being the case, Hagoan Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, advised that in this country generally one should not recite a Shehechiyanu on new fruit. (Igros Moshe 187 and 334).


Additional Note One: We received the following idea from a reader relating to Rabbi Bodner’s Shailah last week about one who forgot to make a Bracha Acharona: “Regarding the scenario of forgetting to bentsch.  As time passes and my short term memory is not what it once was, and b”H the  multiple demands of life occur, I was often forgetting if I bentsched/made a bracha achrona or not.  I now do the following:  When I set the table to eat, I put a bentscher near my place setting as well.  As soon as I finish bentsching, I return the bentscher to the cupboard immediately.  In this fashion, if I get distracted by something after mealtime, and see that the bencher is still on the table, that’s my siman that I have not benched yet.   This system has been working very well for me, B”H and I hope it can benefit your readers.”


Additional Note Two:  The Sefer Chovos HeLevavos, at the outset of Sha’ar HaBechina, writes that because people become involved in worldly affairs, they overlook all the good that Hashem showers upon them, “their many blessings seem few to them, wonderful gifts seem meager…they fail to recognize Hashem’s acts, his favors to them…it does not occur to them that they have an obligation to express gratitude, because they realize neither the magnitude of the favor or the One Who bestows it.”  Let us not be one of those people so sadly but accurately described by the Chovos HeLevavos.  Let us constantly find ways for improving our brachos!



Special Note Two: We had previously mentioned the Eis Ratzon of davening at a Bris, especially when the baby is crying--for the Tefillos pierce through the heaven at that time.


We provide by clicking here two Tefillos that have been printed which can be recited at that time (in addition to Tehillim, Chapter 6 and one’s personal tefillos in his/her own language). May all our Tefillos be accepted!



Special Note Three:  At the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah last Friday, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, explained that each daily Shir Shel Yom specifically relates to that day’s creation.  Today, Yom Sheini, is the day of separation between the heavens and the earth.  It is for this reason that in today’s Shir Shel Yom (Tehillim 48), Yerushalayim is emphasized because it is separated in its sanctity and uniqueness from all other places in the world.  Because separation is emphasized, it is a Mizmor “Livnei Korach”--who understood very well where Machlokes--separation can take a person.  Each Shir Shel Yom has a similar message related to that day of creation--which one should try to appreciate daily (rather than just to run through the Shir of that day).  If you are having problems with the associations, you can obtain a tape or CD of the Shiur by calling 718-252-5274.


Additional Note:  Rabbi Reisman pointed out that we are not now zoche to recite the niggun with which each Shiur Shel Yom was recited. However, he observed, we should at least recite each daily Kepitel with feeling--after all, it is the same Kepitel recited that day in the Bais HaMikdash.  What a wonderful opportunity!



Special Note Four:  Also at the Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, made a great number of meaningful points, just a few of which are provided below:


A.  We need Tzaddikim to protect us.  We need to avoid dangerous situations. We need to daven in Al HaTzaddikim that Hashem should save and guard them.


B.  We all have personal challenges.  Shidduchim. Health. Parnassah. Family. Work-related. Home-related.  We must, of course, daven for ourselves.  However, we must also daven for others.  As we learn from last week’s Parsha. Avraham Avinu founded Tefillas Shacharis.  In this week’s Parsha we learn that Yitzchak Avinu founded Tefillas Mincha.  Chazal teach that these Tefillos were then especially instituted by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah for us, K’neged Tamid Shel Boker and Tamid Bain HaArbayim--our communal Tefillos representing our communal offerings.  Just as everyone wanted a chelek, a portion in the Korban Tamid, the community’s offering, so too, even without the Bais HaMikdash, we should make sure that our Tefillos are for the community.  This is why we call out Shema Koleinu--listen to our voice.


C.  Rabbeinu Bachya teaches that when Hashem says in the Torah “Ani Hashem Rofecha”, it means not only that Hashem heals the sick--but that He prevents a person from getting sick.  We must daven with the words Refaeinu Hashem V’Nerafeih that we [remember to include others!] should not get sick.


Additional Note:  Rabbi Weiss urged everyone to take a flu shoot--explaining that he had heard a statistic of many who did not receive a flu shot and died, but that he did not hear of any similar statistic at all for anyone who had gotten the shot!


D.  The Tosfos Yom Tov composed a tefillah for the tragedies that has occurred in Tach V’Tat.  He had seen in a dream that the reason that Tach V’Tat had occurred was because of talking in Shul.  Accordingly, he urged all--young and old alike to refrain from speaking in Shul, and personally recited this potent Tefillah in Shul aloud so that the Rav would bentsch all of these people, and all those present would answer Amen to his Bracha.  The Chofetz Chaim stated that he initially did not understand the Tosfos Yom Tov’s position or his dream.  After all, there was Chillul Shabbos occurring at that time--wouldn’t that be a clearer explanation for what had occurred?!  The Chofetz Chaim answered that when a person sins a malach ra or mekatreig is created, however, the mekatreig is created mute and cannot speak.  It is only through sins of the mouth that he is empowered with speech.  Accordingly, Tach V’Tat would have never happened had the Yetzer Hara not gotten a hold of improper speech.  It is for this reason, among oh so many others, that Shemiras HaLashon should comprise such an important part of our day!


Special Note Five:  Have you begun thinking about the Shidduch you are going to try to arrange this week in honor of this week’s Parsha?! The earlier in the week --the better!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: I usually wash netilas yodahyim and wait for my wife.  She makes her netilas yodahyim brocha out loud.  Should I answer amain to her brocha even though I did not make the hamotzi yet?  Other times she washes and makes the bracha after I said hamotzi before I had a chance to swallow the bread.  Should I answer amain then?


A: An amain between washing and hamotzi is not a hefsek, so answer amain.  But an amain between hamotzi and eating some bread is a hefsek, so don’t answer amain until you swallow some bread. (Halachos of Brochos pg 42).


Hakhel Note:  The Sefer HaMevareich Yesbareich brings from the Maharsha (to Brachos 64B) that through brachos, one is Marbeh Shalom Bein Yisroel LeAvihem ShabaShomayim.  This is something that we really need right now!


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

1. The reason that we have the custom of putting pieces of the Haddasim used on Succos into our besamim holder is that once a Mitzvah has been done with an item, we endeavor to do other Mitzvos with the item as well.  It is for this reason as well that we use the Challah from an Erev Tavshilin at the Friday night and Shabbos morning meals, and only then actually eat it at Shalosh Seudos.


2.  The Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim brings that folding one’s Tallis on Motza’ei Shabbos is a Segulah for one’s wife to be Ma’arich Yamim--to have length of days.


3.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 320, seif katan 12) rules that if one is eating grapes or olives on Shabbos, he should put the entire grape or olive into his mouth and chew it then, rather than suck on it when it is only partially in his mouth, because of issues relating to Sechita on Shabbos.


4.  Pomegranate juice has become a popular health food.  Since it may be obvious that you are taking it for health reasons--is it permissible to take on Shabbos?  We believe that one can draw the appropriate response to this question from the following excerpt from Halachos of Refuah on Shabbos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita: “One may not take an enema on Shabbos.  Even though taking an enema does not necessarily involve medicine, nevertheless, since it looks like a therapeutic procedure, and there are medicines for constipation, if it were permitted, people might mistakenly assume that taking medicines is also permitted.   According to some Poskim, one may use plain water (without any additives) as an enema for constipation.  However, if the constipation is so severe that one feels weak all over, or one feels so incapacitated that he cannot function, he is permitted to use any type of enema, but should insert it by way of shinui.  More often than not, constipation is not incapacitating, in which case an enema may not be taken.  Nevertheless, if one can cure his constipation by taking a long walk, or by eating regular foods that are natural laxatives, such as stewed prunes, prune juice, licorice tea, or high-fiber cereal he may do so, since these are activities of healthy people, and would not be confused with taking medicine.”



Special Note Three:  As noted yesterday, this week’s Parsha contains the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether one should take the stairs rather than take an elevator when going to visit one who is ill--for one is then exerting himself to a greater extent, and doing a Mitzvah with each step.  He responded that if it would involve bittul Torah, one should take the elevator.  [Hakhel Note:  The question teaches the great importance of Bikur Cholim on the one hand--and the great importance of Talmud Torah on the other!]  HaRav Kanievsky additionally commented that HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, raised the question as to whether one was obligated to travel to another city to visit one who was ill.  HaRav Kanievsky answered that Chazal (Nedarim 40A) teach that visiting a sick person causes him to live!  Apparently, HaRav Elyashiv agreed to the response!



Special Note Four:  Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh, is the Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish, whose profound impact on our generation, especially in Eretz Yisroel, continues to echo around the world as well.  The following thoughts of the Chazon Ish are from his nephew and close student, HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, and are found at the end of Sefer Derech Sicha, Volume II:


A.  Once HaRav Kanievsky was walking with the Chazon Ish, and he told Rav Kanievsky that he could sense that people had been learning in this spot before.


B.  A Talmud Chochom did not want to engage in a Yissocher/Zevulan relationship in order not to lose his reward from Torah learning.  The Chazon Ish told him that one should learn Torah to do the will of Hashem, not to receive reward.


C.  When the Chazon Ish heard that the Chofetz Chaim wanted girls to study Torah SheBichsav and Ma’amarei Chazal, he happily responded--”I also said the same thing!”


D.  The Chazon Ish would stand when his older brother entered, based upon the Chazal that one must show respect to an older brother.


E.  In the area of Shidduchim: (i) he advised that one check on the proposed Shidduch’s Yiras Shomayim--as evidenced by how the person davens; (ii) he also advised that if one asks an Adam Gadol a question about a Shidduch, his advice must be listened to; and (iii) it is said in his name that any girl who learns in Bais Yaakov today is considered a Bas Talmid Chochom.


F.  Just as Torah is a man’s antidote to fight hisYetzer Hara, Tzniyus is a woman’s antidote to fight her Yetzer Hara.


G.  He ruled that if one received a Gemach loan from a Gemach, he should not give additional money as a donation to the Gemach, for this would be Ribbis D’Oraisah. 


H.  If he would send for somebody two or three times and he was not found, he would not further search for him. 


I.  He said that Anavah means that a person knows the truth about his knowledge and talents--but recognizes that he does not deserve anything because of it. 


J.  Once someone referred to a friend as a “yekke”, not meaning to insult him.  The Chazon Ish told him that he was mechaneh shaim bechaveiro--he nevertheless was improperly referring to his friend by a nickname.


K.  He would say that the way to avoid forgetting something--is to do it immediately!



Special Note Five:  This Sunday, 16 MarCheshvan is the Tenth Yahrzeit of HaRav Schach, Z’tl, we provide two short vignettes from the Sefer Conversations on the Life of Rav Schach, compiled by HaRav Asher Bergman, Shlita:


A.  “Rav Schach recalled from the days of his youth how the Alter of Slobodka (Rav Noson Zvi Finkel) used to instill this fear within the bachurim - the dread of am-ha’aratzus - as he would urge the boys to learn seriously, saying, “If you don’t take care, you will become am ha’aratzim! Go learn!” “When the Alter said these words to us,” Rav Schach related, “we felt in our very bones that this would be the worst catastrophe that could possibly occur to, us - that we should become am ha’aratzim, and lose out on life. Whoever heard the Alter issue this stern warning with his trembling voice, ‘You will be am ha’aratzim!’ did not require any further musar shmues! That person immediately and clearly understood the pathetic tragedy of a person fated to waste his life as an am ha’aretz, with no possibility of gaining spiritual stimulation or satisfaction in life.”


B.  “Rav Schach would often encourage avrechim to become involved in teaching Torah to younger students in both junior and senior yeshivos. The reason, aside from the tremendous independent value of spreading Torah knowledge, is that developing such a relationship and bond with younger students is beneficial for the older Talmud scholar himself, in that it keeps him refreshed and invigorated. Rav Schach expressed a similar thought in a different matter as well. A tragic incident occurred in which both parents of a particular family had been killed, presenting the question of what should be done with the orphans, who had suddenly become bereft of a father and a mother. The children’s grandmother was interested in taking upon herself the task of raising them, and was willing to dedicate herself to this difficult job with all her heart and soul. Deep down, however, she had doubts as to whether it was beneficial for the children to grow up their whole lives raised by an “old grandmother.” The woman approached Rav Schach for advice, and as soon as he heard about her reservations, he told her,

“Whoever is in the company of young people and constantly deals with them, himself remains young! You do not have to worry about becoming an ‘old grandmother’ in such a situation!”“



Special Note Six:  Several points and pointers on Parshas Vayeirah:


A.  Although there are several answers to the question as to why Avrohom Avinu sought advice from Aner, Ashkol, and Mamrei on how to perform the Mitzvah of Milah described in last week’s Parsha, there is a beautiful Mussar thought from the Shelah HaKadosh.  The Shelah writes that Avrohom Avinu wanted to teach us all that a person should not perform a Mitzvah quickly and without thinking, based on his own intuition and personal intellect--but wherever possible one should speak to others about possible ways to perform and better accomplish the goal.  Sometimes, one can even learn from those on levels below him, and all insights are important.  In fact, according to the Medrash, Mamrei told Avrohom how he felt the Mitzvah could be performed with greater Hiddur, and was therefore Zoche for the Shechina to appear to Avrohom Avinu in the Plains of Mamrei,” as described at the outset of the Parsha!


B.  The Parsha teaches that as soon as Avrohom Avinu saw the Malochim approaching, “Vayaratz Likrasam--he ran to greet them.”  How could a 100 year old man who had just gone through a Bris Milah run to them?  Moreover, was it not Refoel, one of the three strangers coming, who was coming to heal him?  Finally, why did he need to be healed if he was already able to run to greet them--why was Refoel coming at all?  Some learn that once Avrohom Avinu saw Refoel he became healed immediately and was thus able to run towards them.  This serves as a reminder to us all that no medication or treatment, no therapy or regimen can or will be successful unless it is infused with Hashem’s direction and force to heal.  If Hashem willed it, it would not be the tablet that healed, but simply looking at the tablet that would heal.  When we recite the known Tefillos before taking medicine or before going to the doctor we should recognize that the Tefillah is more of the “Ikar” than the tablet, the shot, or the recommended advice to be followed!


C.  When Avrohom Avinu greeted his guests, he begged them not to leave without resting, and having something to eat and drink.  Why did Avrohom Avinu have to beg them--after all wasn’t he doing them a great favor--helping them on an extraordinary hot day?!  The Ba’alei Mussar explain that there is life-guiding advice here.  When helping another, one must do his utmost to make them feel not that you are doing them a favor, but that they are doing you a favor (in some way).  Additionally, one should not honor or glorify himself over the deed that he is performing.  We especially note that Avrohom Avinu begged the guests from the outset, and did not have to even respond to any initial expression of thanks with, “No, No, you are doing me a favor”--so that even ab initio the Chesed was pristine.  Hakhel Note:  This may not always be easy, but let us take Chizuk from Avrohom Avinu--a 100 year old man on the third day of his Bris Milah expressing his plea to three young and healthy strangers, whom he had never seen before and whom he would ostensibly never see again. 


D.  Many have toiled over the Chazal that teaches that “Hachnosas Orchim is greater than greeting the Shechina”--as we see that Avrohom Avinu asked Hashem to wait so that he could greet the strangers approaching.  HaRav Shach, Z’tl (whose Yahrzeit is, once again, Sunday) teaches that Hachnosas Orchim is greater because through Hachnosas Orchim one is not only in the presence of the Shechina, but is actually emulating the Shechina, thereby becoming one with it.  If one would think about it from a parent-child perspective, a parent would have much greater Nachas from the child doing what he does--rather than the child simply being together with him in his presence. 


E.   Chazal teach that although Avrohom Avinu worked so laboriously to feed and wait-on his guests, because Avrohom sent Yishmoel his son to bring the water to his guests, Hashem also sent us the gift of water through a Shaliach in the desert.  What was wrong with training Yishmoel in this task--after all was he not “the next generation”?  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, answers that the best training for the next generation--even more than having them do something themselves--is for them to watch you perform the Mitzvah--and perform it properly.  Just as the image of Yaakov Avinu remained with Yosef, and prevented him from sinning, so too will the picture of Chesed be ever imprinted in the follower’s mind--to reflect upon, to replicate, and to emulate--when the time comes…and it is really their turn!


F.  Hashem praised Avrohom Avinu with the words “Ki Yedati…for I have loved him because I know that he will command his children after him to follow in the way of Hashem performing charity and justice.”  HaRav Isser Zalmen Meltzer, Z’tl, asks how charity can come before justice.  After all, one cannot do charity without money which has not been earned justly.  Charity should not precede justice--it should succeed justice in the order of the Posuk!  HaRav Meltzer answers that sometimes Tzedaka is justice itself.  If a person is desperately in need of our assistance; if it is a matter of Pikuach Nefesh, if it is a matter of sustaining lives, then we can no longer leave it as a well meaning Chesed or extra-curricular Tzedaka activity, but must instead consider it as part and parcel of our daily requirement to act with Mishpat--of doing that which is just and proper today.  This would mean that if there is a genuine Pidyon Shevuyim call, a real Hatzolos Nefashos request, a matter of Pikuach Nefesh in the community, it is not a nice or appropriate “add-on” to a person’s day to respond in some way--it is an integral fulfillment of your “Mishpat,” your doing the right thing, your properly serving Hashem on that day!


G.  Chazal bring that the reason Lot was saved from Sodom was because he remained silent and did not disclose anything to the Mitzri’im when they were told that Sora was Avrohom Avinu’s sister.  While this silence by Lot is admirable, it would seem that he had much greater zechusim to save him than this one act of silence.  Had he not just taken in guests at the risk of his own life, was he not willing to jeopardize the welfare of his own family members so as not to violate the trust placed in him by his guests...and had he not just baked Matzos in celebration of Pesach?!  Why do we have to go back so long, to such a seemingly insignificant event as simply not disclosing Sara’s additional relationship with Avrohom to the wicked authorities?  HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, answers that we learn from here how much more important it is in the eyes of Hashem if your act or deed is an expression of your own thoughts and efforts--your self-developed “Madreiga Atzmis”--a level that you have reached or attained by yourself, rather than simply acting in a certain (even good) way because you are used to it, because your parents did it, or because you are fortunately in that kind of environment.  This point, HaRav Aharon continues, is incredibly true, even if the habitual or customary item is truly much greater--and even if it involves actual Mesirus Nefesh-in its performance.  Lot ‘s Hachnosas Orchim was par for the course, expected, and ordinary--in spite of the adversity and danger, because it was something that he had learned in his youth from Avrohom Avinu, and was something that simply had to be done and get done.  Developing one’s own area or areas of growth in Avodas Hashem is especially treasured by Hashem.  Putting it in further perspective--in Lot ‘s case--and B’ezras Hashem in ours--it actually planted the seeds for Moshiach.  Tread new ground, develop your own new path beyond that which you are used to and is expected of you--for this is your best measure of greatness!


H.  We now move on to the second part of Lot ‘s salvation--after he escapes Sedom.  At this point, we learn that Lot accomplishes something that even Avrohom  Avinu could not accomplish.  Although Avrohom davened for each one of the five cities to be saved, Hashem advised him that there was an insufficient number of Tzadikim in any city for the city to be saved.  However, we find that Lot requested that he be saved in the city of Tzoar --and he was, together with the entire city!  How was Lot , the recalcitrant nephew, able to save a city that his incomparable Rebbe could not?


HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, derives two essential lessons from this.  First, we see how much more effective it is for the affected person to daven for himself than for a third party (no matter how great) to daven for him.  Here, Lot was asking for his life to be spared.  No matter how genuine and sincere the entireties of Avrohom  Avinu were, nothing can match the depths of someone pleading for his own life.  No one can act on your behalf more than you and you alone.   Of course, one should always ask a Talmid Chacham to daven for him, but this cannot replace or substitute for one davening for himself.


The second great lesson teaches us the extent of HaKoras HaTov that one must demonstrate if someone has even attempted to do good towards them.  Lot showed hospitality to the Malochim (who really didn’t need it), and their expression of HaKoras HaTov went to the degree of saving an entire city in order to save Lot   Similarly, HaRav Daniel of Kelm, Z’tl, HY’D, the last Rosh Yeshiva of Kelm, explained that Elisha HaNavi was actually bound by his Hakoras HaTov to the Isha HaShunamis, to go to the extent of bringing her son back to the living--the greatest of miracles possible.


Thus, within one event, we learn vital lessons both on a Bein Odom L’Makom, and a Bein Odom L’Chaveiro, level.  In Bein Odom L’Makom--establish your own personal relationship with Hashem in Tefillah because no one can daven better for yourself than you.  Work on it, because no one can as you can.  On a Bein Odom L’Chaveiro level, make sure that you constantly and unwaveringly demonstrate your HaKoras HaTov for the many kindnesses you receive from those around you.


I.  The Zohar writes of the goodness that Hashem bestows upon those who are worthy:  When a person needs Zechusim in a time of Din, Hashem may provide him with the opportunity for a Zechus--such as a poor person at his door.  Through the act of Chesed, the person’s life can then be spared in the time of judgment, for Hashem will leave a protective mark upon him.  Lot was saved from the punishment of Sedom because, the Posuk records, “Vayizkor Elokim Es Avrohom”--because of the Chesed that Avrohom Avinu, who would have been hurt by Lot’s passing performed for the Malochim on that great and fateful day.  Hakhel Note:  The rest is eternal history.  As a result of Lot ’s rescue, Moav was born, from whom will come forth Moshiach--all dating back to the guests at Avrohom Avinu’s door. 


J.  Avrohom Avinu davened for the people of Sedom. Chazal teach that a person should not daven for Reshaim to be taken away from this world, for if Hashem had removed Terach when he worshipped idols, Avrohom Avinu would not have been born…(and we know what would have happened to the world!)  Furthermore, Chazal teach that it is a Mitzvah to be Mispallel for Reshaim to do Teshuva-- so that they do not have to enter Gehenoim.  See, for example, Dovid Hamelech’s entreaties for the Reshaim who wronged him in his moving words in Tehillim (35:13).  Let us take the lesson home every day--having this in mind in Hashiveinu, and in our private Tefillos!


K.  The Shelah HaKadosh writes that from the Akeidas Yitzchak we all can take a practical lesson:  Avrohom Avinu was Mevatel his Ratzon for the Ratzon of Hashem--he broke his desire, he gave of himself, he went against his grain--all because he knew that Hashem wanted otherwise.  When a person encounters a particular Aveirah or Mitzvah, he should think that perhaps Hashem is testing me, just as he tested Avrohom Avinu.  With Hashem on his mind in this way, the Shelah concludes, a person will be successful in the tests of his life. What life-bearing advice!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: I washed for dinner, then became very involved with something, and don’t remember if I bentsched. I feel terrible.  What should I do?


A: When you have a sofek, if the sofek is for a D’Oraysa obligation you must adopt the stringent position and bentsch again. If the sofek is for a DeRabbanan obligation you may assume a lenient position and are not required to bentsch again. Therefore, if you ate enough to feel full, and have not exceeded the shiur ikul, your obligation to bentsch is D’Oraysa. Your sofek is a sofek D’Oraysa which would require you to take the stringent approach and bentsch. (Shulchan A 194.4. Halachos of Brochos pg 293).


Hakhel Note:  As we all know, the Rema teaches at the outset of Shulcha Aruch Orach Chaim that Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid is a Klal Gadol Ba Torah--a great principle of Torah--and therefore of life.  As we all further know from the Karbon Tomid, the term Samid does not necessarily mean always--but rather consistently.  The Korbon Tomid was brought only twice a day, but it was brought every day of the year--including Shabbos, Yom Tov and even Yom Kippur.  We too can use our opportunity to fulfill Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid--even if it is not on an alway-24/7 basis, when we make our consistent daily brachos to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  If we simply sincerely think or speak the words Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid before reciting any bracha over food or otherwise outside of davening--we are with  daily import and intent fulfilling this great principle of Torah and of life!   Additional Note:  The Situation above will then never, ever occur again in your life!



Special Note Two:  Some additional thoughts on the trying period that we are now in:


A.  A Rav announced to his constituents that he feels that people should now sit down and cry.  In explaining this Rav’s instructions, another Rav pointed out that there are two types of cry. One is a cry of despair and resignation--an expression of loss of presence.  A second is a cry of growth, a cry of hope--a cry that Hashem will help us to recognize what we must accomplish and bring Yeshua to the world.  This is the cry expected of us.  Hakhel Note:  As Dovid HaMelech calls out in Tehillim--”MiMa’amakim Kerasicha Hashem--I cry out to Hashem from the depths.”  If we feel that we are now at the depths of life--then we must reach down into the depths of our hearts and souls, and with this bring ourselves to a greater Deveikus BeHashem.


B.  The Chofetz Chaim points out that “Chait HaLashon Al Kulo”--the sins of the tongue are on the top of forbidden acts.  Many of us already try to be careful with our words and study the laws of Lashon Hara daily as well.  Perhaps what we can especially emphasize now is being careful when we are not sure about the real permissibility of the words that we are about to say.  The extra level of hesitation, that extra degree of care, those spared words of doubt--can make all the difference in the world--and for the world!


C.  Yesterday, we had reported that Rabbanim had met and had urged every individual to take a particular Mitzvah upon himself.  In this regard, a reader provided the following illuminating words of the Chofetz Chaim (in the Sefer Chomas Hadas):  “The zechus of supporting Torah in these days has no limit to its reward--and this is besides the Mitzvah of Tzedaka which is also exceedingly great.  Through these two Mitzvos together, one can purify his soul from sin.  One should state “HaRei Alai Tzedaka Bishvil LeZakos Es Nishmasi”, and this will certainly provide him with to’eles.”  Based upon this teaching of the Chofetz Chaim, one may want to especially determine a Torah cause to newly support at this time.


Special Note Three:  The following moving excerpt is from the biography of HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, Z’tl, by Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Rosenthal, Shlita (Feldheim):


The Gaon R. Shefatyah Segal related that a group of pillaging gentiles broke the door of Rav Leibowitz’s home and burst inside. They commanded every member of the household to stand against a wall, warning them not to budge. The intruders began a thorough search of the entire house, going from room to room, tearing up everything, searching for hidden silver, gold or jewelry, looting anything of value. Standing against the wall, everyone watched in deathly silence. At a certain point, one of the pillagers took a sefer off the shelf and quickly leafed through it, hoping to find money hidden in the pages. When he found nothing, he threw the sefer on the floor! Immediately he took down a second sefer and the scene repeated itself. This was too much for Rabbeinu. Roaring an awesome roar, he broke from the line at the wall and charged. He rained punches on all sides of the pillager’s head, screaming at the top of his lungs, “Sefarim reissen?! Gevalt! - Tearing sefarim?! Gevalt!” He looked liked a seasoned warrior, for his outrage doubled the force of his blows. The intruders started screaming in fright, ‘Run! Run!’ and fled for their lives. The entire household breathed sighs of relief.


Hakhel Note:  Although the actions described in the incident are that of a Gadol--they are certainly the actions that we, as descendants of the Avos, could aspire to and attain as well.  At the very least, we should be inspired to in some way improve our Kavod for Sefarim and our Kavod HaTorah! 



Special Note Four:  This week’s Parsha begins with HaKadosh Baruch Hu teaching us the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.  Accordingly, we once again provide the following notes on Bikur Cholim:


1.  According to the Chochmas Odom (151:3) the ikar of Bikur Cholim is davening for the sick person while visiting him.  In fact, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (193:3) poskens that one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim if he visits, but does not daven to Hashem while there.  This is because the Shechina is present above the head of the sick person, and your tefillos are, k’viyachol, in front of the Shechina itself (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335, Shach seif katan 3).  In your tefillah, you should ask for Hashem’s mercy for that particular choleh “b’soch cholei Yisroel” (amongst the other sick of Israel ), because, in the merit of the many, your tefillos will be better received (ibid., Shach seif katan 4).


2.  Bikur Cholim should not be performed when it is convenient for the visitor, but when it is best for the choleh.  As the Halacha states, one should not visit in the first three hours of the day… the last three hours of the day…, etc. (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 335:4).


3.  In addition to tefillah, there is a mitzvah to give the choleh “nachas ruach” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 193:3).  This does not mean that one should speak on and on, or even with witticisms.  Statements should as “You’ll now have to take that medicine for the rest of your life,” or “Next time, you’ll be more careful,” or even “How will this affect your life going forward?” may be equated with smacking a poor person across the face and knocking out a few teeth as you hand him a hundred dollars with a smile.


4.  The Chazon Ish (Collected Letters, Volume I:138) writes that everyone has the mitzvah to perform “Bikur Cholim” upon himself, as well.  This means that he must take care of his body and use the most effective means possible for his personal health.


5.  One should try to tidy up and make the atmosphere more cheery for the choleh, if possible.  The Gemara (Nedarim 40A) relates that Rabbi Akiva himself swept and cleaned the floor for his sick student.  As a result, the student told him, “You have caused me to live.”  Rabbi Akiva then taught, “He who does not perform the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, it is as if he spilled blood.”  The reverse is also, of course, true.  In fact, the Gemara clearly teaches that one who acts wisely with the ill will himself be saved from “a bad day” by Hashem (see Tehillim 41 and Gemara, Nedarim 40A).


6.  Finally, one should consider a choleh’s status after he leaves the hospital, and even after he returns to shul or to work.  The fact that he has somewhat healed does not necessarily mean that he is not suffering pain or is otherwise in distress.  One should continue to daven for, and inquire as to, a person’s welfare, until he is confident that the choleh has received his Refuah Sheleimah!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: My chavrusa was not sure if he ate a shiur for brocha achrona and asked me to be motzi him, which I did.  He must have been a little distracted, because he forgot to say Amein.  Was he yotzei, or should he get someone else to be motzi him again?


A: He was yotzei without the Amein, but if he was so distracted that he did not pay attention and have kavona to be yotzei, then he is not yotzei. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 213.4. Halachos of Brochos pg 186).


Hakhel Note:  The Sefer HaMevareich Yisbareich teaches in the name of the Zohar that a bracha B’Kavannah is like a Mincha to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  Let us bring Menachos up throughout the day!



Special Note Two:  Some reactions to the recent world-shaking events that have been thrust upon us--B’nai Torah and children taken from our midst--and now most recently the Petira of the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, Z’tl, whose Tzidkus and Chochma had a personal impact on so many:


A.  We must literally turn our eyes towards the heavens and look towards Hashem.  Although we don’t understand events, we can exclaim the very same Pasuk that Dovid HaMelech does in Tehillim--which is echoed both in the Mesilas Yesharim (a Mussar Sefer) and the Chayei Adam (a Halacha Sefer):  Horeini Hashem Darkecha Ahaleich BaAmitecha, Yacheid Levavi LeYirah Es Shemecha--Teach me, oh Hashem, Your Way, that I may travel in Your Truth, unite my heart to fear Your Name.” (Tehillim 86:11).  Remember, as well, that there will be a time of ‘Umalah HaAretz Dei’ah Es Hashem’--we will understand the world and its operations in a true and pristine way. 


B.  It was reported to us that certain Rabbanim met, and concluded that everyone should be asked to choose a particular Mitzvah and take upon himself to perform it better.  One Rav suggested to his constituents that everyone take upon himself a new Mussar Seder--to add to one’s level of Yiras Shomayim.  This would, of course, additionally obviate the need for any further external sources or events to increase our Yiras Shomayim. 


C.  Daniel advised Nevuchadnetzar that the events described in his ‘bad dream’ could be pushed off by his giving Tzedakah to the Jewish poor.  Nevuchadnetzar listened to Daniel’s advice--and as long as he did so, his punishment was spared.  If this was true about a Rasha of such gross and historical proportions, all the more so will it save us! Let us remember that, as the Shulchan Aruch rules LeHalacha:  “No one becomes poor from giving Tzedakah.”  Now is a time to give and to give--because of the seriousness of the situation in which we find ourselves. 


D.  By the following link, we once again provide the Eitzos to be zoche in a time of Din, which we can study--and work on.  Please feel free to forward this link on “How to be Zoche B’Din” to as many others as possible.   ;http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/ZocheBDin.pdf


E.  The Navi Hoshei’ah was advised by Hashem that, rather than criticizing K’lal Yisroel, he should have instead pleaded to Hashem:  Banecha Haim, B’nei Chanunecha, B’nei Avraham Yitzchak V’Yaakov--Galgel Rachamecha Aleihem--They are Your children, the children of those whom You love, the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, cast Your Mercy upon them!”  Our Ahavas Yisroel must shine through.  It is reported that HaRav Finkel, Z’tl, once gave a Shiur in which he asked, “How could anyone ever speak Lashon Hara against anyone else--when we are to love our fellowman as ourselves?!” 


Additional Note:  The Sefer Tomer Devorah writes that one of the Thirteen Attributes of Hashem is ‘Asher Nishbata LaAvoseinu’.  This Attribute is Hashem’s recognition of the greatness of our Avos.  Hashem says about us: “VeChanosi Es Asher Achon--I will have mercy upon them and give them free gifts--and this is because they have Zechus Avos.  Even if they are not fit, I will give them because they come from great forefathers, and I will bear with them until they correct themselves.”  So too, must we emulate the Middah of Hashem--when we meet or experience people who do not appear deserving, one should think: ‘in the end they are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak  and Yaakov.  If they are not deserving--their forefathers were, and one who disgraces children disgraces the parents.’  It is no coincidence, as it never is, that these events have occurred while we are in the Parshios of the Avos.  We must follow the Middos of Hashem and bring the Zechus of the Avos upon all of us--remembering that we must treat our family and friends as descendants of the Avos as well. 


F.  As many note, the letters of Mishna juxtaposed are the letters of Neshama.  We can learn Mishnayos for the Neshamos of those who have left this world--as well as for the Nishamos of those who are here.  We have previously provided much information on readily available and successful Mishna study by phone and by computer.  Perhaps now is the time to add a Mishna to our daily schedule.  We add that they Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, did allow (perhaps instruct) his daughter to study the Mishnayos in Avos for an aliyas Neshama for the Steipeler’s Rebbitzen. 


G.  Yesterday, the date of the Rosh Yeshiva’s Petira, was of course the Yahrzeit of Rochel Imeinu as well.  Rochel’s cries for Klal Yisroel were so effective that Hashem advises Rochel (as reported by the Navi) to stop crying--for her actions have paid off.  We too, can simply cry, and if unable, at least cry out--while reciting Tehillim.  Dovid HaMelech may have technically been involved in different wars--but is definitely best known for his eternally effective Sefer Tehillim.  Remember, too, that the Moshiach will come--from Dovid HaMelech.  Our ancestors Tehillim have helped bring us to this point--may our heartfelt Tehillim bring us home forever!


H.  The reality is that even though we may believe that we are doing all that we can, or at least are doing better than we ever have done--for some reason at this time it is not enough.  Hashem knows most and best, and He is waking us up in no uncertain terms.  Do not be fooled into complacency by many who may not pay close attention to the tragic events of the last several days and will continue to daven a four minute Shemone Esrei, a 30-second Aleinu, and make all of their brachos while on the fly and perhaps too much under their breath.  They are making a mistake, for they have been literally deceived by society which treats events as passing “news items” not to be taken personally as messages from Hashem.  If one does not change anything, he must recognize that his inaction is a real indication that he is personally electing for Hashem’s messages not to register.  This is a sad result in a short lifetime of 120 years.  We all know that Hashem’s Middah Tovah is oh, so much greater than His Middah of puraniyos.  Let us be sure to take the messages--so that we can in the future--and forever thereafter--bask in all of those Middos Tovos!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK (for men):  When a left-handed person recites Tachanun at Mincha, upon which hand does he fall--his left hand (as righties do) or his right hand (which is the hand he did not utilize for Tachanun at Shacharis, because his Tefillin were on it)?



The petira of the B'nai Torah in the car accident, and the petira of the babies by fire and water, cannot just throw us into shock.  We must recognize the Din that has been cast upon us as a nation.  Just as we ask Hashem on Rosh Hashana to move off the Kisei HaDin to the Kisei HaRachamim we must do so now.  Let us find the requests for Hashem's mercy--RACHAMIM-- in our daily Tefillos and focus upon them with feeling.  Let us also undertake special acts of chesed and tzedaka to demonstrate that we recognize the Din and that we are especially seeking Rachamim.  Let us cry out for our people--in word and in deed.  We need to start today.  Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel HaNesunim... HaMakom Yeracheim Aleihem...Hashta BaAgala U'Vizman Kariv.



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: I make a mezonos for rice cakes, right?


A: Wrong.  Mezonos is designated for cooked rice or cake made from rice flour. Rice cakes are produced by applying hot air, steam, and pressure to rice grains.  Therefore the correct brocha is hoadoma and borei nefoshos. (Heard directly from Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l. Halachos of Brochos pg 519).


Hakhel Note:  Let us also remember that, in addition to making the correct bracha--we must also make the bracha correctly.  The Sefer HaMevareich Yisbareich teaches in the name of the Midrash Tanchuma:  “In the way that a person is mevaraich Hakadosh Baruch Hu--so is HaKadosh Baruch Hu mevaraich him!”



Special Note Two:  One other important thought on Brachos--from last week’s Parsha.  Hashem tells Avraham “VaAvarecha Mevarecha--I will bless those who want to bless you.”  Since Hashem views someone who has had a Machshava Tova as if he had already performed it, it follows that one who even thinks of blessing Avraham (and B’EH his descendants!) will be blessed by Hashem.  This has great ramifications, for not only will the blessing take place--but it will take place by one who has already been blessed by Hashem!



Special Note Three:  Before taking final leave of last week’s Parsha, we note the significant words of the Chassid Ya’avetz to Avos 5:2, as brought by HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl:  We all know that the only reference to Avraham Avinu being thrown into the fiery furnace are the Torah’s words “Ani Hashem Asher Hotzeisicha MeiUr Kasdim--I am Hashem Who took you out of Ur (fire), Kasdim.”  Why does the Torah not mention the great miracle of Avrohom’s salvation from the fire--and why doesn’t the Torah mention this tremendous challenge as one of Avraham Avinu’s great Nishyonos over his belief in Hashem?  After all, at the Akeidah in this week’s Parsha, Avraham was offering up his son--but in Ur Kasdim he was sacrificing himself, without any living descendants at that time?!  Moreover, the Nisayon of the Akeidah was in Avraham’s older age by which time he had many students following in his path, and after he had already experienced the Bris Bain HaBisarim, and had received Hashem’s assurances of the continuity of his descendants.  At Ur Kasdim, however, Avraham was still alone against the world, and was apparently not yet zoche to the Devar Hashem--yet he was moser nefesh to such a great extent--yet without any direct reference in the Torah!  The Chassid Ya’avetz answers that the nisayon of the Akeidah was due to the tzivui of Hashem, whereas at Ur Kasdim, Avraham’s act was based upon his own knowledge, intellect and belief.  In a word, at Ur Kasdim Avraham understood what he was doing and was willing to sacrifice himself because he knew it was the truth--just as a scholar or philosopher would be ready to have his life taken for what his mind told him was risght and proper.  A Nisayon, however, is different.  It is to perform an act or do something L’Sheim Shomayim--even if one does not understand what he is doing or why--but simply and purely to fulfill the Mitzvah of Hashem.  Our success at a Nisayon raises our level of Deveikus BeHashem! Hakhel Note:  As we may go through our own individual Nisyonos, it may be important to keep this concept handy.



Special Note Four:  A few additional important parting lessons from Parshas Lech Lecha:


a.  Chazal (Avodah Zara 9A) teach that this world will exist for 6,000 years--with the middle 2,000 being described as “Torah,” and the final 2,000 being described as “Yemos HaMoshiach.”  Fascinatingly, Chazal teach that the middle 2,000 years of Torah began at the time of “Ve'Es HaNefesh Asher Asu BeCharan--at the time that Avraham Avinu began to influence those around him to leave Avodah Zara and come close to Hashem.”  Chazal, then, do not describe the 2,000 years of “Torah” as beginning from when Avraham Avinu began to study Torah and come close to Hashem himself, but rather from the time that he brought others close to Torah.  What a great lesson for his descendants!  The Era of Torah can only begin when it is valued enough to share it with others, and not merely keep it for oneself.  If one truly desires to demonstrate his feelings for Torah, the primacy and importance of Torah and Mitzvos in his life, then he will make it a point to go out of his way to relate a Dvar Torah that has just moved or inspired him; he will help someone properly practice a Mitzvah or Halacha that he is obviously weak in; and/or arrange for a weekly study partner with an emphasis on Kiruv--either Kiruv Kerovim or Kiruv Rechokim.  Avrohom Avinu, Chazal show, is not only the Master of Chesed--he is the Master of Torah--and they both begin with the same Yesod, with the same foundation--sharing that which is easier to hold on to and keep to yourself--with others!


b.  The Posuk teaches that Avrohom Avinu encamped to the west of the City of Ai and to the east of the City of Bais Kail .  Chazal (Sanhedrin 44B) teach that Avrohom Avinu encamped in this place in order to Daven for his descendants who he foresaw would have trouble with the people of Ai.  The lesson Chazal draw from this is that “LeOlam Yakdim Adam Tefillah LeTzara-- a person should always daven before a Tzara takes place"--with the hope that the Tefilla will void the need for the Tzara.  We note that Chazal do not distinguish between 'sizes' of Tzara, and that the lesson applies to Tzaros of all kinds--both large and small.  For example, as we are now in a “changing weather” season, one can certainly daven to Hashem that he not get a cold, strep, or any virus, infection, or other illness which r’l seems to be more prevalent during these times.  Nothing is too big or too small for Hashem--we should be smart enough to recognize in advance that He is the Source of Everything--that He starts and stops, brings on and withholds, weakens, invigorates and reinvigorates, and can bring on pain, adjust it, and cure it.  Our ability to sincerely daven to Hashem in advance, demonstrating our Emunah and Bitachon, may obviate the need for symptoms, events, and occurrences which may have been otherwise necessary--but are no longer needed!


Additional Note:  There are, of course, other Tzaros to avoid besides sickness--the nuclear threats of madmen; the effects of an estimated tens of thousands of rockets around Eretz Yisroel in the hands of terrorists; issues relating to shidduchim, marriage and parent-child relationships, parnassah and money....  We know to Whom to turn--let us take the lesson of Avrohom Avinu--and do what we can to help save ourselves, our people, and the world from pain and suffering, from difficulty and devastation--Tefillah is the preemptive strike that Hashem is looking for!


c.  The Posuk records that, after Hagar conceived from Avrohom while Sarai had not, “Vateikal Gevirta Be'Eineha--Sarai became lowered in Hagar’s esteem.”  The Posuk then records “VaTe’aneha Sarai --and Sarai dealt harshly with her, and Hagar fled.” (Bereishis 16:6).  If you have a moment, we would urge that you review a very short Ramban on these last words, and bring this great and important lesson with you wherever you may be--at work, out shopping, and most especially at home!


d.  Chazal teach that Avraham Avinu consulted with Aner, Eshkol, and Mamrei, relating to the Mitzvah of Bris Milah that Hashem had given him.  What was there to consult about? Why did Avrohom Avinu need an Eitzah from the Bnei Cham living around him, if Hashem had given him this great Mitzvah?  Hint:  See Bereishis Rabba, and the Sifsei Chachamim, actually found at the outset of this week’s Parsha, in which the Pasuk states that Hashem appeared to Avraham in the “Plains of Mamrei”--one of the persons from whom Avraham had asked advice regarding the Milah.



BRACHOS ALERT!  From the OU:  Shibolim Multi-Grain Chips, under Badatz Yerushalayim and the OU are Mezonos.  However, because of their composition, one must eat more than three (3) Kezaysim of them Toch Achilas Pras (just a few minutes--ask your Rav for the parameters) in order to make an Al Hamichya.  Otherwise, the after Bracha is a Borei Nefashos.




Special Note One:  More on Brachos… We continue our daily series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  



Q: What brocha should I make on sushi?


A: Sushi is a combination of two ingredients 1-rice 2-fish or avocado. If you were eating a plate of rice and a serving of fish, two separate foods, you would make two brochos. However, since you are eating one food comprised of two components, only one brocha may be made, that of the ikar. In this case the ikar is the food that has the majority of the volume. Thus, since the rice is the majority component – the brocha is that of rice. Therefore, brocha rishona for sushi is mezonos, and the brocha achrona is borei nefoshos. (Shulchan A 208.7. Halachos of Brochos pg 68).


Hakhel Note:  The Rashba (Brachos 7B) writes that in the zechus of our brachos--Hashem increases His Rachamim in the world!  Let us be careful with our brachos  so that we can bring much needed Mercy into the world!



Special Note Two:  Imagine that you were told that you won $1 million today in the state lottery.  The joy would undoubtedly overshadow minor ailments or problems, and your happiness would probably be contagious to others.   Let us think for a moment.  If you would have won the $1 million it would have been only because Hashem determined that winning the $1 million was appropriate for you at this time.  If you have not won the $1 million then it must be that Hashem has determined that you were not supposed to win the $1 million today.  Shouldn’t you be just as happy?  After all, you are experiencing the very same Hashgacha Pratis, receiving exactly the items, in exact measure, that Hashem has determined are good for you today!



Special Note Three: We are at a point in between the Yomim Noraim and Succos where Tzedaka giving may be at a low point.  When others may not be doing a particular Mitzvah, your performance of the Mitzvah may be more stellar--and may stand out in your stead to a greater extent.  How about writing that extra check today?



Special Note Four:  Several points and pointers relating to last week’s Parsha:


A.  The Mishna in Avos (5:4) teaches that Avrohom Avinu passed ten different tests.  Yet, in the previous Mishna which states the number of generations between Noach and Avrohom--our forefather is referred to only as Avrohom and not Avrohom Avinu.  The commentaries explain that the term Avinu relating to his tests teaches us that through Avrohom’s succeeding at the tests, he instilled within us, his children, the makeup, character and nature that has been necessary throughout our history.  We were, and are, for example, readily able to move from place to place, deal with foreign governments, sacrifice ourselves for our beliefs, and follow Hashem’s directives whether we understood them or not, because of what Avrohom Avinu has passed down to us.  Many people have genes for physical traits, we are blessed with spiritual genes which will bring us through eternity!


B  Hashem is referred to in last week’s Parsha as the Mogein of Avraham (Bereishis 15:1).  The special concept of Mogein Avrohom has, of course, been included as the concluding words of the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah points out that Hashem is our Mogein as well in the zechus of His being the Mogein of Avraham.  Chazal teach Becha Chosmin--we end the first Bracha only with Avraham, although Hashem was also the Mogein of Yitzchak and the Mogein of Yaakov in their various confrontations with the world around them.  HaRav Shimon Shkop, Z’tl, explains that the reason we end only with Avraham is because at the end of days, K’lal Yisroel will be much like in the time of Avraham Avinu, where there was no Mesorah from generation to generation as there was in the time of Yitzchak Avinu and Yaakov Avinu.  Instead new Ba’alei Teshuva (including children who have strayed) will come back to Yiddishkeit and Hashem will protect us through the difficult periods of Chevlei Moshiach and the Milchemes Gog U’Magog.  Hakhel Note:  Accordingly, it very much behooves us to have Kavannah in the very timely words of Mogein Avraham!


C.  Avraham Avinu was taught that his descendants would be like the stars of the sky.  Rabbi Shimon Amsel, Shlita, points out that the analogy is very appropriate--as the stars above, just as K’lal Yisroel, appear so small in this world--yet their actions make a great and real impact where it counts--in Shomayim! 


D.  A Talmid of the Chofetz Chaim asked him whether he should be Oleh to Eretz Yisroel, in light of the dangers presented by the Bnei Yishmael who resided there.  The Chofetz Chaim responded:  “The Torah HaKedosha refers to Yishmael with the following phrase:  VeHu Yiheyeh Perah Adam--and he shall be a wild man.  The Torah is eternal--and if the Torah refers to Yishmael in the future tense (will be)--this means that he will remain this way forever.  Even if all of the civilized nations attempt to educate Yishmael and civilize him, the Torah teaches that this will not be possible, for he is not capable of being civilized.  Even if a descendent of Yishmael is educated and becomes a lawyer, for instance, then he will be an ‘orech din pereh adam’.  If he will become a professor, then he will be a ‘professor pereh adam’--for his inability to become civilized will remain with him forever.”  The Chofetz Chaim sighed, and exclaimed:  “Oy, who knows what this pereh adam will do to Am Yisroel at the end of days?!”


The Chofetz Chaim then advised the student that this should not detract him from being Oleh to Eretz Yisroel--and gave him the following bracha:  Aleh L’Shalom, V’Hashem Yatzliach Darkecha!” (SeferTalelei Oros)



E.  HaRav Eliyahu Guttmacher, Z’tl, brings in his notes to the Gemara in Shabbos (130B) from the Sefer Olelos Ephraim that when a person who is not well is in attendance at a bris and davens for the baby, hes hould also have in mind the phrase “Chaneini Hashem Ki Umlal Ani” (Tehillim 6:3), asking Hashem to have mercy on him, as well.  Additionally, anyone who has tzaros should be Mispallel when the child is crying from the pain of the Milah, for the child’s cries go up directly (without any disturbance).  About this the Pasuk (ibid.) writes “Shema Hashem Techinasi, Hashem Tefillasi Yikach--Hashem hear my supplication, Hashem take my Tefillah.”  HaRav Guttmacher concludes regarding this Tefilah at the Bris:  VEHU EITZAH NIFLA’AH--this is a wondrous Eitzah.” (Sefer Talelei Oros)


Hakhel Note:  Many recite the entire Tehillim Chapter 6 at the time of the Bris.



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Who is the first person in the Torah to say the words “Baruch Hashem”?




Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Practical Advice:  Before making a bracha stop for a moment and think--Hashem is the Mekor HaBrachos!




Q: Is it true that if I make kiddush and drink wine, I do not have to make a brocha on any of the other drinks?


A: Yes that is true. Wine with regard to other beverages is like making a hamotzi on bread and then eating meat and fish. The hamotzi exempts you from making a brocha on the other foods. Similarly, when you make a hagofen and drink wine, it exempts you from making a brocha on the soda, beer, whiskey, etc.  There are two important conditions. 1. You must drink at least two or three ounces of wine and 2. The other drinks must have been on the table or in front of you when you made the hagofen. (Shulchan A 174, Halachos of Brochos, p. 100).



Special Note Two:  Great words from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


“Once Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, head of Ponevezh Yeshivah in the city of Ponevezh and later in Bnei Brak, went on a fund-raising trip for his Yeshivah to South Africa, and afterward, paid a visit to the Chofetz Chaim in Radin. Someone present at the visit, was curious about the Chofetz Chaim unusual interest in the primitive tribes. The Chofetz Chaim explained, “Not long from now, everyone in the world will sing songs of praise to our Father, our King. So I wanted to know more about the different groups that will extol Hashem’s praises.”


“I met a person who would react with a big smile, whenever he heard someone mention the size of the world’s population: He would say, “Imagine a seven-billion member choir. Each: individual will sing new songs of praise to Hashem, and they will do this daily. It gives me joy right now, just thinking about this.”



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


A. Especially for New Yorkers and Northeasterners who weathered the storm of last of Shabbos:  Is snow and rain muktzah?  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 338, seif katan 30), writes that it is not muktzah, and one can use it to drink or wash with.  [One could not, however, form a snowball, as this involves a different issur.]  Neither snow nor rain is considered nolad--see Eruvin 46A.


B.  VERY IMPORTANT SHABBOS SHAILOS!  B’EH, a week from today, Veterans Day, November 11th, Hakhel will be hosting a Yarchei Kallah at Agudath Israel of Madison Zichron Chaim Tzvi, 2122 Avenue S in Flatbush.  At 10AM , Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, Renowned Maggid Shiur, will speak on “Hilchos Shabbos: Practical Situations and Solutions”. Rabbi Pearl’s topics will include practical Borer issues (at the table, in the refrigerator, in the sink, cleaning dishes), opening various kinds of food containers, using warming drawers, hot water urns, crock pots, avoiding hatmana issues, leaving ovens on over Shabbos, among other need-to-know topics.


C.  The following Halachos are excerpted from the Sefer Mishna Achrona on the Mishna Berura:


1.  The Mishna Berura writes that one should eat his meals on Shabbos either earlier or later than the rest of the week, so that it is clear that the meals are being eaten L’Kavod Shabbos.  The Aruch HaShulchan adds that if one changes the place of his Seudah, or uses nicer utensils, that is also a heker that it is L’Kavod Shabbos.


2.  According to the Brisker Rav, all who are being yotzei with Kiddush during the day should taste of the Kiddush wine.  HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, explains that this is because the Rav holds that Kiddush in the morning is a Birkas HaNehenin--and that therefore one could only be yotzei by drinking at least a bit. 


3.  Many have the custom of making Kiddush at home, even if they have made or participated in a Kiddush in Shul or elsewhere. The basis for this Minhag is the ruling of the Gra and others (see Bi’ur Halacha 273, d’h Kasvu) that even during the day one must make Kiddush and wash--with Mezonos not sufficiently serving as Kiddush B’Makom Seudah. 


4.  One should not wait until Shabbos day to make sure that he will make 100 brachos that day.  Instead, he should start Leil Shabbos.  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps this is another reason for the custom of “Oneg Shabbos!”


5.  A non-melocha related activity which does not involve a Tircha, and if not done now will lead to a loss, may be done on Shabbos.  It is for this reason that one can move a Kli SheMilachto L’Heter so that it is not stolen or does break, even though he does not need it now.  Similarly, for this reason, one can put back something into the refrigerator (e.g. milk) or freezer (e.g. ice cream) so that it does not spoil or get ruined.



Special Note Four:  Perhaps one of the most famous thoughts on the Parsha is “ Lech Lecha MaiArtzecha--go for your own benefit out of your connections from the Artzecha--the Chumriyus of this world.”  Avraham Avinu recognized this as a real task in life, and this helped propel him to greatness.  We provide below a portion of the questions and answers on this week’s Parsha as presented in the outstanding English Sefer Torahific! By Rabbi Maimon Elbaz, Shlita:


1. How long was Avraham imprisoned for publicly opposing the worshipers of avodah zarah?

(Seder Hadoros)

Avraham was imprisoned in Kuta and Kardo for ten years. In those days, the people were steeped in idolatry until Avraham debated with them and demolished all their theories. However, so foolish were they that they punished Avraham, the one who spoke the truth!

Hakhel Note: History repeats itself!


2. What was the symbolism of Avraham’s battle against the four kings?

(Bereishis Rabbah 42:2, Rantban)

Just as four kings tried ruling the world but they lost against Avraham, so too, four nations will try to rule the Jews in exile, but in the end the Jews will reign! Those four nations that exiled the Jews were Bavel, Madai, Yavan, and Edom.


3. Why did Avraham accept Paroh’s presents? After all, don’t we know that “sonei matanos yichyeh” (one will live longer if he doesn’t accept gifts)?

(Bereishis, Rabbah 41:6, Divrei Yoel quoting Ramban)

Avraham accepted Pharaoh’s presents as an omen that someday his descendants would receive gifts from Paroh when they left Mitzrayim [and that they should definitely take them].


4. Why did Avraham not want to keep the money of Sedom?

(See Rashi; The Beginning)

Avraham didn’t want the King of Sedom to claim that he had made Avraham rich. Furthermore, Avraham did not want to touch his “treife” money, which had been acquired through crooked and wicked ways. Another problem with taking such money is that by doing so, it would have made it harder for him to criticize the king and his subjects.


5. Why was it necessary for Sarah to be captured by Paroh?

(The Beginning, Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l)

We can all learn a lesson from Paroh’s kidnapping of Sarah: Even when a situation appears dismal and hopeless, it may eventually bring success and good fortune. Indeed, Avraham’s fame and wealth increased from this “misfortune.”


6.  When did the stars shine visibly during the day?

(Bechor Shor, Shaarei Aharon)

During the Bris Bein Habesarim, when Hashem promised Avraham that his sons would be like the stars, Hashem made the stars themselves twinkle in broad daylight.


7.  Why is it most praiseworthy to begin each day with the song of praise “Adon Olam”?

(Parpera’os LeTorah, Minhag Yisroel Torah)

According to some, Avraham Avinu authored the inspiring poem and ·song.  Accordingly, Adon Olam Saying it, evokes his merits. There is a halacha that every time we mention the Name of Hashem, we must have in mind that He is the Master of All, always! The recitation of Adon Olam in the morning with havanah (concentration) can help a person fulfill this obligation all day long.


8.  How is the human body prepared to heal the Bris Milah quickly?

(Pathways to the Torah-Aish Hatorah)

The body has a certain clotting agent that is found in an infant’s blood more on the eighth day than any other day.


9. Why was the father of the Arabs called “Yishmael”?

 (Pirkei d’Rebbi Eliezer)

The name Yishmael was very appropriate for the ancestor of the Arabs. Yishmael” means “Hashem will hear,” meaning that in the end of the days, the Jews will call out to Hashem because of Arab persecution, and Hashem will hear their prayers and cries! Then He will take revenge upon the enemies of the Jews and save the Jewish nation from any further danger and harm.


10. What did Hashem tell Avraham Avinu when he was bleeding from the Bris Milah?

(Tanchuma Parshas Vayeira)

When Avraham was bleeding from his Bris Milah, Hashem comforted him by saying that in the future when his descendants sin and deserve punishment, the blood of his Bris Milah would serve as a protector and guardian.


11. Which berachah should one give his son on the day of his Bris Milah?

(Targum Yonasan Parshas Vayechi)

You should bless your son on the day of his Bris Milah that he become a tzaddik like Ephraim and Menashe, the first Jews born in galus, who remained steadfast in their observance of Torah morals-so much so that they were counted among the tzaddikim of the preceding generation!


12.  Why is it beneficial to have someone learn Torah next to the baby boy’s crib the entire week before, or at least the night before, his Bris?

(Kav Hayashar chapter 73, Pele Yoetz)

If men study Torah near the newborn’s crib ‘during his first week in Olam Hazeh, the child will be endowed with great holiness that will help him to master Torah, guard his Bris Milah, and produce a cord of kindness that will enable him to assist many others in the world!


13.  What great benefit does one gain from attending a Bris?

One of the great rewards of attending a Bris Milah is Mechilas Avonos: one’s sins are pardoned! This is because Eliyahu Hanavi refuses to be in the company of “sinners.”


14.  Why do some fathers say Birchas Shehechiyanu at their son’s Bris Milah?

(Vilna Gaon; see Bach and Yoreh De’ah 260)

Ashkenazim have the custom not to say shehechiyanu at a Bris Milah, since the baby is in pain. Others do not recite this berachah because the mitzvah is not yet “completed” until the newly circumcised child successfully guards his Milah throughout his lifetime, Nonetheless, many Sephardim do make the bracha of shehechiyanu at the Bris Milah of their son (and likewise it is the general minhag of Eretz Yisroel). Incidentally, there is a special prayer parents can say that the newborn baby keep his Bris Milah holy.


15. In what merit do the descendants of Yishmael reside in our homeland?

(Zohar; see Bach an Yoreh De’ah 260, Sh’lah)

One who is very careful with Bris Milah will merit living in Eretz Yisroel. Arabs that are the descendants of Yishmael have been doing circumcision for thousands of years, thus granting them some sort of merit to live there.


16.  Avraham Avinu was scrupulous in keeping all the mitzvos that would later be given to his descendants on Har Sinai. So why didn’t Avraham Avinu undergo Bris Milah before he was 99 years old?

(Midrash Tanchuma 17, Bereishis Rabbah 46:2, Vilna Gaon)


Avraham wanted all future converts to feel comfortable, no matter how late in life they undergo their Bris Milah.


17.  Why did Hagar have a baby immediately, while Sarah had to wait 75 years until she had one?

(Bereishis Rabbah 45:4, Atarah Lemelech)

The Midrash says, “Weeds grow rapidly, but wheat takes much toil to  make it grow.” Similarly, people need to do much more work to produce tzaddikim, and sometimes that work is in the form of tefillah. Rav Pam zt”l in Atarah Lme!ech writes that Sarah couldn’t bear the pain of seeing other women without babies when she had a baby, so Hashem first gave all the other ladies a baby and only then He gave Sarah a baby.


18. What should be expected to happen ‘When the kingdoms of the world fight with one another?

(Bereishis Rabbah 42:4)

Just as Avraham was elevated to great fame and fortune after the war against the kings, so too will the Jewish nation receive fame and fortune at the advent of Moshiach when the kingdoms of the world are fighting among themselves!  Hakhel Note:  We may not be interested in the fighting of the kings--but let us do our utmost to bring the Moshiach!



Special Note One:  What does a cup of coffee do for you in the morning?  The easiest way to tell is by not having that cup, and realize how tired, non-thinking, or otherwise unproductive you may be or become.  The items and events of Olam Hazeh are of course dugmaos or examples for us to understand Olam Haba.  Now you can better fathom and understand what your day is really, eternally going to be  like when you miss a chavrusa, a learning seder, even that one Mishna or Pasuk that you would have otherwise learned.  Don’t give it up--because that lackluster feeling, that unproductively can never, ever be made up! 

Additional Note:  The Mishna Berura (Orach Chaim 102, seif katan 6) writes that when one sits and learns Torah, “Harei Hu KeMekabel Alav Ol Malchus Shomayim--one has the additional remarkable benefit of Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim as well.  When one loses or gives up the opportunity, he is in double jeopardy--while one who makes the special effort to retain and utilize the opportunity is blessed with concomitant Torah--and Malchus Shomayim!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl; (Sifsei Chaim--Mo’adim I; p.334) writes:  “On the Yomim Noraim one attains such a special level of Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Somid.  How can one take the Shivisi with him throughout the year?”  He answers:  “We have a direct approach to Hashem 100 times a day through the brachos that we make to Hashem as recited in His Presence.  When one makes a bracha with ‘ketzas chizuk’--thinking about the words of the bracha, then, he can really feel that he is standing before Hashem who is the Mekor HaBrachos--Who is the Only Source of All Blessings.  A Jew who makes 100 brachos a day has the opportunity of Shivisi 100 times as well!”


To inspire us in our daily Brachos as we move farther away from the Yomim Noraim and deeper into the body of the year, we are beginning a daily series of straightforward, need to know, Shailos in Hilchos Brachos.  We have asked Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of the classic Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim), to provide us with the Teshuvos below, and he has so graciously agreed.  Of course, as with any Halacha Shaila, one should ask his Rav or Posek for his own particular P’sak.  We begin with the first Teshuva below: 




Q:  At the office I often send out for a tuna wrap. Today I ate two and a half wraps and was quite full. Was I required to wash and bentch? 


A: No. The correct brochos would have been mezonos and al hamichya. Had you eaten croissants (which are classified as pas haboh bkisnin) instead of wraps, and had a shiur k’vius seuda of the croissants you would have had to wash and bentch. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 485).But wraps are too thin and floppy and do not have the consistency of a bread product. Therefore, you may eat a shiur seuda without the requirement to wash and bentch. (Heard from Maran Hagoan Rav Elyashiv, Shlita).



Special Note Three:  After the Yomim Noraim, many of us have now embarked on the study of new mussar Seforim to take our Yiras Shomayim and Middos Tovos with us--and continuously grow and improve them throughout the year.  We have, of course, previously mentioned the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos as an important proposal for this year’s project.  Others may now be involved in the Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim or in the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah.  Before taking leave of the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, (you definitely need not!), however, we provide several highlights from the Sefer below:


A.  If one rules over himself, and uses this world in order to help him to attain true life goals, he rises, and the world itself rises with him! 


B.  If the purpose of the creation of man was for Olam Hazeh, there would have been no need to instill within us a Neshama which is so lofty that it is greater than the Malochim themselves.  Moreover, one should clearly recognize that his Neshama has no Nachas Ruach from all of the luxuries of this world--just as the king’s daughter who is married to a commoner finds no importance or interest in the hum drum and mundane activities of the common folk. 


C.  The Ikar Metziyus of a person in this world is three fold--to perform Mitzvos, to serve Hashem [as a servant serves his master], and to withstand tests.  One should strive to come close to Hashem and to break the mechitzos--the truly unnecessary physical and material items which have no purpose in helping one reach his goals)--so that one feels drawn towards Hashem just as metal is drawn towards a magnet. 


D.  When a person does not study his deeds, he is like a horse running hurriedly and unthinkingly in a time of battle.  One of the great designs of the Yetzer Hara is to keep a person duly occupied at all times so that he remains unthinking as to what he should be doing, and to what he should be changing.  One must recognize this and fend for himself--making the time to improve!


E.  One who does accumulate many Ma’asim Tovim in his lifetime will not have the opportunity to do so afterwards. 


F.  When the time for a Mitzvah arrives, or when a Mitzvah presents itself before him, or even when one simply thinks of doing a Mitzvah--he should put the thought or the opportunity into immediate practice, and should not allow time to separate in between its presentation and its performance, ki ein sakana kesakanaso--there is nothing more dangerous than allowing a Mitzvah to be delayed--for it is quite likely that the opportunity will be forever lost. 


G.  Although many would never think of robbing their friends of any item overtly, one can “taste” geneivah with the rationale that “this is business practice” or “it is permissible to do this in order to earn a profit” or “in order to earn a living”.  Additionally, just as stealing an item is theft, stealing someone’s time is theft--and just as when one steals an item and does a Mitzvah with it his Saneigor--his’defense attorney’ becomes a Kateigor--a ‘prosecuting attorney’, so too with one who steals another’s time--his defense attorney r’l becomes a prosecutor.  We must especially remember the words of Chazal that one who steals even a shaveh peruta from his friend is considered as if he stole away his friend’s soul.  Moreover, he has tarnished his own name, and is referred to an aval (perverted one), sanui (hated one), meshukatz (creepy one), cheirem (excommunicated one), and toeivah (disgusting one).  Finally, Chazal teach that if there is a basket full of sin, it will be Gezel that comes to the forefront to prosecute against the person. 


H.  The Torah teaches that Hashem does not want to see in us an ‘Ervas Davar’--which Chazal interpret to be ervas dibbur or nivul peh.  In fact, Chazal (Shabbos 33A) teach that because of the sin of nivul peh, great tzaros and difficult gezeiros are r’l meted out and r’l it causes the demise of Bachurei Yisroel.

Hakhel Note:  When one hears the words “You should excuse the expression….” Don’t excuse the expression--for everyone’s sake!


I.  Anyone who has a brain in his head should consider forbidden foods as poison, or at least food with which poison has been mixed--would you ever consider eating such a thing?!


J.  A person should always go beyond himself, and consider the Tovas HaDor--what he can do to be mezakeh others, and to help shield them.  One should be like a tree who provides fruits to others.  This also means that one should daven for the people of his generation, including asking Hashem to grant Kappara and bring to Teshuva to those who need it, and to serve as a defense attorney for his generation.

Hakhel Note:  Remarkably, we can help so many others--it’s all in the thought, it’s all in the effort!


Special Note One: We remind everyone to be Mispallel for Yaakov Yosef Ben Raizel, who is still horrifically languishing in Japan .



Special Note Two: This coming Friday is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Meir Shapiro, Z’tl, R’ Yehuda Meir ben R’Yaakov Shimshon. We therefore remind everyone--especially those who are currently studying (or have studied), or who are in any way benefiting from Daf Yom study. We urge you to do any or all of the following on his Yahrzeit l’ilui nishmaso: Learn Torah—especially Mishnayos; Give Tikun; Dedicate your Daf Yomi Shiur or Daf Yomi study, and/or review the Daf one extra time, in his memory.



Special Note Three: THIS MONDAY EVENING--ROCHEL IMEINU’S YARZEIT! Rebbitzen Tzipora Heller and Rebbitzen Tehila Jaeger will give shiurim on this year's Yahrzeit Rachel Imeinu worldwide video, entitled INTERLOCKING HEARTS: THE POWER OF OUR CONNECTION. Showing in most locations on Monday, Nov. 7th, (schools will show it the next day). Hakhel will host the Flatbush showing at Agudath Israel of Madison, 2122 Avenue S, at 8:30PM . Suggested Donation: $18.00 women, $10.00 students. Proceeds to Aniyei Eretz Yisroel. The video focuses on "Noseh B'Ol Im Chaveiro" -- developing empathy for others and sharing each others joy -- and challenges. Both Rebbitzens incorporate important practical messages about our response to recent tragedies as well as ideas for how to give each other chizuk and how to help when we want so much to help. For women and girls only. For more information, please see the following link --  http://tinyurl.com/3fkh4r9



Special Note Four: The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 101, seif katan 1) urges everyone to at least regularly have Kavanna in the chasima of each bracha of Shemone Esrei (i.e., Baruch Atta Hashem…). The remarkable Dirshu Edition notes to the Mishna Berura write that the source of his words are the Tur (ibid.). The Tur writes that if one adds up the number of words in the chasimos of the brachos of Shemone Esrei, he will count 113 words--which is the number of words in the Tefillas Chana, and which is also the number of times that the word Lev appears in the Torah. The Bach adds that the chasima of every bracha--even of the middle brachos of bakasha--are all shevach, i.e., that Hashem is the Chonen Da’as, is the Go’el Yisroel, is the Rofeh Cholei Amo Yisroel--and it is better to have Kavannah in praising Hashem than in making requests of Hashem.



Special Note Five: We daven for a Refuah Sheleima for the outstanding maggid, Rav Yaakov Galinsky, Shlita,--Yaakov Ben Devorah, Besoch She’ar Cholei Yisroel. The following amazing incidents are reported by Rav Galinsky in a recently published Sefer of his Shiurim on Yom Kippur and Succos:


A. Rav Galinsky was once in the hospital and was approached by a non-religious doctor who was in obvious distress. Rav Galinsky asked him what was troubling him so. The doctor related that there had been an elderly man in the hospital who had been suffering terribly from serious illnesses for whom the doctors had no hope. This doctor was chosen by the team of doctors to “do the man a favor, and pull the plug, to relieve the man of his suffering.” The doctor complied, and the severely ill patient was niftar shortly thereafter. On Friday night, however, the deceased man appeared to the doctor in a dream, in obvious distress in the next world, and severely reprimanded the doctor for having taken his life: “What have you done to me--if I would have lived for another four days with the suffering that I was in, I would have been spared the need to go to Gehenoim, in punishment for my sins. It is because of you that I must now suffer severe pain in the world that I am in!” The man then disappeared. Turning to Rav Galinsky, the doctor, who was so beside himself, asked if there was anything at all that he could do. Rav Galinsky responded: “Yes, obviously, there is a reason that he appeared to you in a dream. If there was nothing that you could do, the dream would never have occurred. If you would do Teshuva, your Teshuva could spare him the need to attain Kappara in purgatory. Your Teshuva would replace the need for any further Kappara--just as the four additional days of suffering in this world would have". The doctor asked: “But, how will my undertaking to do Teshuva help him now? I know that it is a long process--and he must be going to Gehennom, or even be there as we speak!” Rav Galinsky responded: “Hashem will give him credit for your commitment--just as the Torah records Na’aseh V’Nishma. If we undertake to do something with sincerity, Hashem will view it with merit, as if the task was accomplished.” The doctor became a Ba’al Teshuva, and the man did not reappear.

Hakhel Note: There are many obvious lessons from this story. We wish to emphasize at this time that when one feels pain or suffering, he should be conscious of the fact that every iota of pain on the one hand, or pleasure on the other, comes from Hashem and has reason and purpose. It is well known that HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, would say about pain: “Better in this world, then in the next!” Accordingly, when feeling pain or suffering, or when sick, one should remember to think or recite the words we have quoted in the name of Dovid HaMelech, and the consequent words of the Apter Rav. As Dovid HaMelech exclaims (Tehillim 25:18): “R’eih Anyi VeAmali, Vesah Lechol Chatosai--see my afflictions and my toil, and forgive all my sins!” In the related words of the Apter Rav: “Teheh Yisurai Kappara Al Kol Chatosai--may my suffering serve as an atonement for all of my sins.” One final point on this: Chazal (Brachos 57B) teach us that fire is but 1/60th of Gehennom--so we are being spared from alot! In all events, may we be saved from all suffering in this world and the next--through our toil in Torah and Chesed, for as we all know and should internalize--B’Chesed V’Emes YeChupar Avon!


B. The second Rav Galinsky incident we bring actually happened much earlier. Rav Galinsky had a friend who survived the horrors of World War II, but who had absolutely no immediate family that survived. The young man was in abject despair. Rav Galinsky decided to take him to the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, and the friend agreed. The Chazon Ish heard his story and related to him the following: “There was a very capable young woman who supported her husband’s study of Torah by going to the market place and buying something--then selling it to someone else at a profit. She did this daily for years, and was successful enough to support her family, so that her husband could continue his learning. One day, at the market place, she found a‘good buy’ and opened her purse to purchase the item. Shockingly, there was nothing there--all the money had fallen out! This was all that she had to support her family--and it was gone! Overcoming panic, she ran to her Rav, who, of course, commiserated with her, but advised that there was nothing that he could do other than to put up some signs and make some announcements. After all, the market place was utilized mostly by non-Jews, over whom he had no control or influence. Incredibly, a short time after the Rav’s signs were put up, a man from the Rav's community appeared before him and advised that he had found all of the money that was lost. However, he was not willing to return it--for he had daughters to marry off and dowries to be paid--and he remembered from his studies of Ailu Metzios as a child that when one loses money in a public marketplace like the one described, the loser has despaired of ever recovering the money, and accordingly, loses ownership rights to it. “Unless, you tell me otherwise, Rabbi, I am the owner of this money, and I will keep it and spend it as you know I need to.” The Rav was shocked, but believed the man was correct in his Halachic analysis. However, he decided to send the Shaila to HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, the Kovno Rav, Z’tl. The Kovno Rav, responded immediately as follows: “The finder must return all of the money. It is not his. The wife’s cash was in fact owned by her spouse. When she lost the money, it was obviously quickly scooped up by the finder. The husband had no idea that it had been lost. Accordingly, although the wife has despaired, it was not her despair that was relevant, but the husband's--and the husband did not know that it was lost! Accordingly, this was a case of Yeiush Shelo Mida’as--Yeiush without knowledge. The Halacha is that Lo Havi Yeiush--if one does not know something was lost, he cannot be considered to be in despair of finding it--and thus had not given up his ownership rights of it. The husband remained the true owner--and all of the money was to be immediately returned to its rightful owner!”


The lesson to the young man was that while everything may appear to be in the depths of despair--even when the Rav of the town could find no way out of the despair--the fact remained, as the higher authority knew, that there is no room for despair, and that everything that belongs to its rightful owner will be returned to him. Rav Galinsky relates that it gave his friend much Chizuk and he went on to raise a Torah home of erlicher Yidden. Indeed, the Luach Bnei Yaakov (5772) writes that the words in Tehillim of “Ana Hashem Hoshiah Nah--please Hashem save now!” Should be recited with great intensity and Deveikus--for with these words we recognize that there is no one but Hashem upon Whom to rely--Ain Od Melvado! We must always remember that Hashem can do any thing at any time, and any where, that Hashem loves us, that Hashem only wants to do that which is good for us! Any Yeiush that we may have is thus Shelo Mida’as--and this is not Yeiush!



Special Note One:  One more word on standing for the Chosson and Kallah, from a reader: 


“Observe carefully Gedolim at Chasunos and you will see that most do not stand for the Chosson and Kallah and some stand for a second.  I have discussed this with Rav Binyamin and Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky at chasunos  and the conclusion seems to have been that there is no mitzvah to stand for the Chosson and Kallah, although nothing wrong with it, let’s stand for the Deoraisa.”


Hakhel Conclusion: Based upon readers asking their own Poskim the question, may we suggest that everyone ask their own Posek what they should do.  May each reader be blessed with this Shailah coming up very often in their lives!



Special Note Two:  The Sefer Chassidim (as brought in the Mishna Berura, Dirshu Edition, to Orach Chaim 98,seif katan 8, fn 18)  cautions that when a person davens for something specific--such as good health or Parnassah--he should be careful not to limit his Kavannah to only those particular areas where he feels the special need--for they say above ‘he thinks that this is all he needs!’  Rather, one should try to have Kavannah in all brachos--whether he realizes his needs or not! 



Special Note Three:  The Chofetz Chaim makes an amazing point as to why the Metzora must go around exclaiming “Tameih, Tameih”--that he is impure.  It is not simply to embarrass him, or only so that others can daven on his behalf--but actually because, as a result of his Lashon Hara, his own tefillos for a recovery are not accepted!  Hakhel Observation:  Yet another reason to stay clear of Lashon Hara--so that your davening will have meaning and the capability to be accepted.



Special Note Four:   Yesterday, we provided an extremely important point from the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, as to the great importance of avoiding Ga’avah, and of living with real humility.  We provide below a beautiful explanation of the concept from the Sefer Growth Through Tehillim by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita: 


“Riches can easily be lost in a short time and, regardless of anyone's intelligence, an illness that affects a person's memory and ability to think rationally, can cause him to lose all that he knows. All mortals are fragile. Every human being is a mortal and therefore, every human being is fragile. Someone whose possessions and intelligence are fragile, should not be arrogant or conceited, all the more so, when compared to the One Who is unlimited and infinite. Nothing can compare to that unlimitedness.  Humility is an automatic response of one who has even a small glimpse of the power and omniscience of the Creator.  Therefore Moshe, who had the greatest knowledge and understanding of Hashem, was also the most humble person who ever lived.  The more one knows about Hashem, the more one knows that one does not know very much and truly does not have any lasting power and strengths.  "Lower yourself and the Almighty will raise you," wrote Ramban.  That is, you are automatically higher and more elevated, the more you realize that Hashem is all-powerful and all-knowing - and that you are very far from this.  These verses refer to the time of Moshiach when the entire world will recognize Hashem's mightiness. May we soon merit to experience the great glory of our loving Father and powerful King and may we bask in the glory that He is our Father and King.


"I attended a lecture where the speaker emphasized the importance of having a positive self-image. One of those attending asked a basic question: Is it not conceited and arrogant to consider oneself great? Is not the quality of humility highly praised and the trait of arrogance harshly condemned? The lecturer - who was clearly someone with humility balanced together with a positive enough self-image that he could speak in front of a large crowd quite comfortably smiled and replied, ‘When I was a student in Yeshiva I attended, my Rosh Yeshiva once called me over and told me that I was walking round-shouldered, and I should stand up straight. Don't try to act like someone humble,” he admonished me. “At your age that is not what you should be working on. You need to appreciate the fact that you are someone who studies Torah, and that should give you a sense of importance. You are created in the Almighty's image and you are one of His children. Appreciate who you are. Of course, you should not be conceited when it comes to comparing yourself with anyone else but, in your own heart, remember that you are valuable and important. Be grateful of; all the gifts that Hashem has given you. The more you realize that all you have is a gift, the easier it will be for you to have authentic humility. You do not have to act as if you are humble - you will have an inner modesty that is sincere.”  His words and more than that, his very personality has served as a role model that I have tried to emulate.’”


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