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26 Kislev

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


A. Points relating to Shabbos Chanukah:


1. To the extent possible, one should prepare his Menorah and wicks on Erev Shabbos, so that he can light on Motza’ei Shabbos as quickly as possible. 


2. The following Shailah and Teshuvah was provided to us by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita: Question:  This Shabbos Chanukah we are staying in a hotel. The hotel provides our group with a ballroom where we daven and have our kosher catered meals. The ball room does not have windows to the outside. The hotel does not allow candle lighting in the bedrooms. Should we light in the bedrooms anyway, since only the bedrooms have windows to the outside, and hopefully they will not go so far as asking us to put it out, or should we just light in the ballroom? Answer: Since the hotel specifically does not allow placement of the Chanukah menorah in the bedrooms, doing so would be considered “gezel”. (See Halachos of Other People’s Money p. 55, note 132). The Shulchan Aruch rules that gezel of an akum is totally asur. (S Aruch C”M 348, Halachos of Other People’s Money pg 32).  Therefore doing the mitzvah of lighting in the bedroom would be considered ‘mitzvah haboah b’avairah’. Thus you should light in the ballroom, where there is ample parsumei nissa for your Jewish family/group.


3.  Fascinatingly, the last Halacha in Hilchos Chanukah of the Rambam teaches that if one is capable of purchasing either Shabbos licht or Chanukah licht--then he should purchase Shabbos licht because of the Shalom Bayis that they bring along with them.  With this Halacha, placed at the climax of Hilchos Chanukah, the Rambam is at the very least pointing out to us that although we treasure the yearly opportunity to bask in the warm and astounding glow of the Chanukah candles, the wonderful privilege of the weekly Shabbos candles should be perhaps even more enjoyed and appreciated!  In the outstanding Sefer on Shabbos for children (and the entire family), Can’t Wait for Shabbos!, Rabbi Yehuda Winzelberg, Shlita, teaches the following (p.95):  “The Mitzvah of lighting the Shabbos candles is extremely precious.  Rabbeinu Bachya in Parshas Yisro teaches that when a woman lights the candles with Simcha--genuine happiness, she has the power to have all of her Tefillos answered by Hashem!”


4.  It is reported that in the Beis HaMidrash of Reb Moshe of Kabrin, Z’tl, there were many Chasidim who would nearly faint (or even faint) from the great Hislahavus and Hishtapchus Hanefesh they experienced in giving Shevach V’Hoda’ah to Hashem while reciting Nishmas.  In fact, there were actually people appointed to revive them.  Certainly this Shabbos, in which the very atmosphere is especially infused with the Hoda’ah to Hashem inherent in Chanukah, should our Nishmas be inspiring and inspired.


5.  The Al HaNissim and what it describes is so pivotal to Chanukah, that the Siddur Rashban actually writes that Al HaNissim takes the place of a Karbon Todah offering in gratitude for the Nes!  Hakhel Note:  This kind of ‘Karbon Todah’ can even be brought on Shabbos!


6. In order to perform Hadlakas Neiros Chanukah as close to the end of Shabbos as possible, the Chazon Ish, Z’tl,  and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, recited Veyitein Lecha after Hadlakas Neiros. 


7.  Likewise, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, in order not to delay Hadlakas Neiros on Motza’ei Shabbos would not even recite the zemer of Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’Chol, typically recited immediately after Havdalah. 


B. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 125 women.   This winter, Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are on Hilchos Muktzah. Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 49 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


50. Is one permitted to use a tea pot that has sediment, where  the tea pot has a spout that will catch the sediment?

One is permitted to pour the tea to the level where the sediment will reach the liquid, usually 1/2 inch from the bottom of the pot--all depending how much sediment there actually is. Although the tea (considered ochel) is being removed from the sediment (pesoles) and it is for immediate use-- the vessel is a vessel being used for borer, and one cannot therefore pour out all the tea, as all three of the required conditions are not satisfied.


51. Is there a problem of borer using a pitcher that has a spout and contains ice cubes?

Ice cubes are considered as liquid and there is no problem of borer because a person does not really care if he gets ice in his cup or not. Therefore, it is permitted to use a pitcher with a narrow spout, even though the spout will hold back the ice.


52. In #51, what would be the Halacha if the pitcher contained a lemon?

Due to the fact that the lemon is large and clearly discernible, we do not consider the lemon and liquid as mixed items. Accordingly, there is no prohibition of borer.


53. If I have a box of whole and broken Matzah, may I separate them?

There is a dispute among the Poskim. HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Zt’l, rules that there is no prohibition to separate them even though a broken Matzah L’chatchila cannot be used for lechem mishna. However, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, holds that one may not separate them, but one may search through the box and take out the whole matzah that he needs for immediate use.


Special Note Two:  Points and pointers on this week’s Parsha, Parshas Mikeitz:


A. Parshas Mikeitz is usually read on Shabbos Chanukah.  There are many possible links.  Below are a few suggestions from the Sefer Baruch She’Amar (p.143):


  1. Just as in Paroh’s dream, the seven gaunt cows consumed the seven healthy ones, and the seven ears of wind-beaten grain swallowed the seven full ears, so too did the few Chashmonaim defeat the mighty Greek army--there is and can only be one explanation--for this is Hashem’s will!


  1. The Parsha begins with the word VaYehi--seemingly (from its sound) a word of tza’ar, expressing the anguish of the times.  Yet, this event ended with the reuniting of Yosef and his brothers.  So, too, with the Chashmonaim, they suffered immensely at the hands of the Greeks, but emerged victorious spiritually and physically.


  1. Most Chumashim, at the end of laining Shabbos morning, list the number of Pesukim just read.  At the end of Parshas Mikeitz, however, most Chumashim also list the number of words in the Parsha--2,025.  This total number of words alludes to the gematria of Ner (50 plus 200=250)--eight times for the eight days of Chanukah--totaling 2000--all of which started on the 25th of Kislev--for 2,025!


B.  In what merit was Yosef referred to as “Ain Navon VaChacham Kamocha”--there is no one wiser in the world than you?  The Pasuk answers that it is because “Hashem revealed the dream and its interpretation to you” (Bereishis 41:39, 40).  The next logical question is then, what merit did Yosef have that allowed Hashem to reveal the dream and its meaning to him and be considered the wisest man in the world?  The Alter of Slabodka, Z’tl, explains with Chazal’s words (Midrash Rabbah 23): “Machshava SheLo Chashva Ba’Aveira Tavoh VeTikra Chachma--a mind which did not think of sin--let it come and take wisdom”.  According to this Chazal, the key to Yosef’s success was that he did not let the temptation even enter his mind.  He cleared his thinking of the Yetzer Hara’s influence and did not let the otherwise obvious sinful thought in at all.  Because he had made his mind open and free--there was an equal measure of great wisdom that could enter in its place and stead.  We may not always have the same great temptation and the concomitant great wisdom that can flow from overcoming it, but we must realize the very practical lesson from this Chazal--the more you prevent ta’avah and sin from entering your thought process in the first place--the wiser, very literally, you can and will become!  Your own measure of wisdom is up to--you!


C.  A reader pointed out to us the following:  How possible statistically was it to appoint as the Viceroy of Egypt an individual who only the day before was (a) totally unknown to Paroh, (b) a young, unmarried and unsettled man, (c) a non-citizen who was even an Ivri (per se despised, as seen from Rashi on the words of the Sar HaMashkim to Paroh in this week’s Parsha), (d) an eved, and as if to add insult to injury (e) a convicted criminal who was still in prison?!?  Because Hashem runs the world and all parts of it, there is not even the smallest element of shock or surprise to us... or even to any Mitzri recorded in this week’s Parsha!  Hakhel Note:  As we strengthen ourselves in Bitachon on Chanukah--may we suggest especially focusing on the Second Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Gevuros--in which we attest to Hashem’s limitless and unfettered power in all areas of our existence.



Special Note Three:  We provide the following questions and answers relating to Chanukah, which are Kosher for Shabbos table and Chanukah Mesiba use.  Among the sources for these Shailos and Teshuvos are the Sefer Pardes Chanukah by Rabbi Avrohom Rosenwasser, Shlita, and The Essence of Chanukah Rabbi Dovid Meisels, Shlita:


1.         Question:  How many questions and answers do you think we will have?

Answer:   44--representing the 36 Neiros of Chanukah, and the eight Shamashim!


2.         Question:   Why do we light 36 Neiros over Chanukah (excluding the Shamash)?

Answer:  (a)  According to the Sefer Rokeach it is because Adam HaRishon used the Ohr HaGanuz for 36 hours before it was hidden away.  In fact, the Bnai Yissoschar in the name of R’ Pinchas of Karitz writes that although we may not see it when lighting, the Ohr HaGanuz itself is revealed at the time of the Hadlakas Neiros! (b) The Neiros symbolize Torah SheBe’al Peh, and there are 36 Revealed Mesechtos in Shas (Sefer Taamei Dinim U’Minhagim). Hakhel Note: The Pasuk in Bereishis describing the creation of light reads: “Vayar Elokim Es Ha’ohr Ki Tov” (Bereishis 1:4). There are four tagim on top of the Tes (9) in Tov--4 times 9 is 36--an illuminating allusion to the 36 Neiros Chanukah.


3.         Question:   What does the word Chanukah mean?

Answer:  We all must know several answers to this question. The Ben Yehoyadah (Shabbos 21B) provides a unique teaching. He writes that it is a combination of Chinuch and Heh. The term Chinuch refers to the rededication of the Beis HaMikdash including the Mizbe’ach and of the Hadlakas HaMenorah and the Heh indicates ribui--demonstrating that the light that was originally revealed on the first `Chanukah is revealed yearly in each and every generation. Hakhel Note: The Chasam Sofer (in the Siddur Chasam Sofer) provides several marvelous acronyms for which Chanukah stands.


4.         Question:   Who was the Kohen Gadol at the time of Chanukah--Mattisyahu--or his father Yochanan?

            Answer:  The Sefer Shalal Rav (p. 147-148) presents a Machlokes Rishonim on this very point.


5.         Question: If the Kohanim themselves were temeiyim--did they not defile the oil when lighting the Menorah?

            Answer: Rebbi Tzvi Hersh Charif, Z’tl, presents one explanation: The Kohanim lit with long wooden sticks which were not keilim and which were accordingly not mekabel tumah. Apparently then, when lighting the Menorah they did not enter the Heichal, so as not to bring their tumah there, and stood outside--in the Azara, reaching in with the long wooden sticks to light the Menorah standing in the Heichal. This would uniquely explain the words of the Ahl HaNissim: “Vehidliku Neiros B’Chatzros Kadshecha” (while standing in the Azara)!



6.         Question:  How many words are there in the Bracha of V’liYerushlayim Ircha?  What is the next bracha?  Similarly, how many letters are there in Baruch Sheim Kevod Malchuso LeOlam Voed?  What is the next word in Shema?  

Answer:  There are 24 words in the bracha of V’liYerushlayim Ircha, and 24 letters in Baruch Shem, which correspond to the 24 days of Kislev before Chanukah.  The next bracha in Shemone Esrei is Es Tzemach, alluding to the Yeshua of the Chanukah period (which, of course, we, too, can be zoche to during this time), and the 24 letters of Baruch Shem are followed by V’Ahavta, demonstrating the love of Hashem that was felt at that time.  (Which we, too, should practice during Chanukah, as well!)


7.         Question:  According to many Poskim, the first bracha every evening is LeHadlik Ner Chanukah, with the word “Shel” omitted in order to indicate that the Neiros may only be used for viewing and not for personal purposes.  Based upon this Nusach, how many words are there in this bracha, in the next bracha of Al HaNissim, and in the two brachos together?  What do each of these three numbers teach us? Helpful Hint: See yesterday’s Bulletin!

Answer:  Each of these brachos has 13 words, representing, of course, the 13 Middos of Hashem’s Mercy, as well as being the Gematria of Echad.  Together they equal 26, representing Hashem’s Name of Mercy: Yud-Key-Vuv-Key.  Hakhel Note:  The Mishna teaches that the Greeks made exactly 13 holes in the outer wall of the Beis HaMikdash--this was by no means a happenstance number on their part.  Chazal, in turn, teach that after these pirtzos were repaired, we bow down at those 13 locations--in thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for his miracles on our behalf!


8.         Question:  Why does the Navi compare K’lal Yisrael to a Zayis--to an olive?

Answer:  The Midrash explains that other liquids mix together, but oil will not mix with them.  We too must not mix with the other nations of the world and their ideologies--as beautifully demonstrated in the olive oil of Chanukah. 


9.         Question: Where is Chanukah alluded to in the Torah?

Answer: Towards the end of Parshas Emor, the Torah describes Chag HaSukkos.  Incredibly, the next Parsha immediately following the Parsha of Sukkos--is the Parsha of lighting the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash! (Vayikrah 23:33-24:4)


10.       Question: Where is Chanukah alluded to in Hallel?

Answer: Where is it not alluded to?...Veylokeinu BaShomayim Kol Asher Chofetz Asah; Atsabeihem Kesef V’Zahav…Beis Aharon Bitchu BaHashem Ezram U’Maginam Hu…BeChastros Beis Hashem Besocheichi Yerushalayim..Yomru Nah Beis Aharon Ki LeOlam Chasdo…Hashem Li BeOzerai VeAni Er’eh BeSonai…Yemin Hashem Romeimah, Yemin Hashem Osah Chayil…Kel Hashem VaYa’er Lanu.


11.       Question:  Why is the major sugya in Shas about Chanukah in Mesechta Shabbos?

Answer:   An Ikar Avodah relating to Shabbos and Chanukah is Hadlakas Neiros--for Ner Hashem Nishmas Adam. We also refer you to the last Halacha of the Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah, and to the Sefer Pri Tzaddik by HaRav Tzadok HaKohen Z’tl, on Chanukah, Os Aleph.


12.       Question:  Why is there no Mesechta in Shas called “Mesechta Chanukah”--like “Mesechta Megillah”?

Answer:  There are several answers to this question, perhaps the most well-known being that of the Chasam Sofer. The Ba’al Shem Tov explains because it is still incomplete, and will be completed at the time of Moshiach! Hakhel Note: When HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked this question, he immediately responded that there are at least seven Mishnayos in Shas that do, in fact, mention Chanukah, and proceeded to list them [if you would like the sites, please contact us].


13.       Question:  What else in the Beis HaMikdash had the number eight associated with it?

Answer:   There were eight begadim of the Kohein Gadol, eight instruments which accompanied the songs of the Leviim, and eight items which had a good smell that were used in the Shemen HaMishcha and the Ketores, and an animal can only be brought as a Korban when it is eight days old (Sefer Kad HaKemach).


14.       Question:  The flask of oil was sealed so it could not contract Tumas Mais by touch or carrying, but why could it not contract Tumas Heseit by it just being moved by the Greeks?

Answer:  The Orach HaShulchan explains that it must have been deep in the ground, and so it was clear to all that it had not been moved.


15.       Question:  Please fill in the blank:  The Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah (3:3) writes that Hadlakas Neiros on Chanukah is a Mitzvah Midivrei Sofrim like ____________ _____________.

Answer:  Kriyas HaMegillah.  Hakhel Note:  We may add that by lighting the Menorah the miracles that occurred to the Maccabim should unfold before us and be experienced with joy in the same way as we enjoy and appreciate the Megillah reading!


16.       Question: Why is it forbidden to get benefit from the lights of the Menorah?

Answer:  The Kol Bo says that it would be a Bizui Mitzvah.  The Bnei Yissaschar writes that the Ner Chanukah alludes to the light of Torah that the Yevanim wanted to dim.  We, in turn, show our Kavod HaTorah, and demonstrate that we don’t want to use Torah for our own personal gain.


17.       Question:  Why do we give out Chanukah Gelt?

Answer:  It is said in the name of the Belzer Rebbe that we really must give Tzedakah to the poor in order for them to have money to light the Menorah, to further Pirsumei Nissa.  In order not to embarrass the poor, we freely give to all.


18.       Question:  Can you give a Gematria relating to the dreidel?

Answer:  The four letters--Gimmel, Shin, Nun, Hey add up to 358--which is, of course, the Gematria of Moshiach! HaRav Fishel Shachter, Shlita, explains that the Gematria of Satan is 359--which would at first glance indicate that he would have the upper hand. However--by our taking the Dreidel into our hand--by our taking action--we add on five for our five fingers to the Gematria of Moshiach--overcoming the Satan and bring the Yeshuah!


19.       Question: Other than “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”, what do the four letters on the dreidel stand for?

Answer:  Rebbi Pinchas MiKoritz writes that the Nun Shin stands for Neiros Shemoneh, and the Hey Gimmel stands for Hallel Gamur-- two precious Mitzvos of these days.  Rebbi Pinchas adds, however, that just as there are Shivim Panim LaTorah--there are also Shivim Panim to the Minhagim of K’lal Yisrael!


20.       Question:  How are the three Amudim of the world--Torah, Avodah, and Gemilas Chassadim represented on Chanukah?

Answer:  Torah is represented by the Ohr of the Ner--as Torah Ohr, Avodah is represented by Hallel V’Hoda’ah, and Gemilas Chassadim is represented by the extra Tzedaka given in merciful amounts on Chanukah (Sefer Ziv HaMinhagim).


21.       Question: Why don’t we make a Shehechiyanu every night of Chanukah--if every night was a new miracle?

Answer:  The Sefer Mateh Moshe writes that the miracle occurred with the same oil that we made the Shehechiyanu on the first night--it was just that the miracle kept on recurring!


22.       Question:  What are three answers the Beis Yosef himself gives to his question as to why Chanukah is eight days and not seven?

Answer:  (i)  Initially, the oil was divided up into eight parts, because they knew it would take eight days to obtain new oil, each day they would put in only that one-eighth portion and this small amount kept the Menorah burning until morning. (ii)  Alternatively, after they poured all of the contents of the oil into the Menorah each evening the jug remained full. (iii)  Alternatively, they poured all the oil into the Menorah and in the morning the cups were full, as they had poured them.  In any one of these circumstances the miracle happened even on the first day, and so the miracle actually happened for eight days!


23.       Question:  What Pasuk in Mishlei teaches you that you must learn Torah after you have completed Hadlakas Neiros?

            Answer:  Ki Ner Mitzvah VeTorah Ohr (Mishlei 6:23 )


24.       Question:  There is a Minhag to eat cheese because Yehudis gave the Greek Hegmon cheese, he became thirsty, she gave him wine…and the rest is history.  Since it is the wine that put him to sleep, why is it not the Minhag to drink wine--after all wasn’t that the more direct cause for her success?

Answer:  HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, answers that we learn from here that one must plan ahead and carefully weigh his actions in order to achieve success.  Without the cheese, she would never have gotten to the wine--and we may not have been celebrating Chanukah today!


25.       Question:  What was the original source of the container of oil that was found by the Kohanim?

Answer:  The Shach Al HaTorah writes that this was the oil that was revealed to Yaakov Avinu, which he used to pour on the stone on which he had slept.  Because it came down from Shomayim, it really should have been unable to be consumed by a physical fire.  A Nes occurred and the Kohanim were able to light the oil as a tangible physical oil in the Menorah. 


26.       Question:  How many Menoros were there in the Beis HaMikdash?

Answer:  Chazal (Menachos 29A) teach that Shlomo HaMelech made 10 Menoros for the Beis HaMikdash.  In fact, Rebbi Eliezer b’Rebbi Shimon holds that all ten Menoros were lit. 


27.       Question:  What is the Mazal of the month of Kislev?

Answer:  The Mazal is a Keshes, or a bow, serving as a harbinger of the wars of the Chashmonaim.  The Sochotchover Rebbe, Z’tl, asks “but we have no mazal, so why do we need the sign of the Keshes?”  He answers that to us the bow is our Tefillos, and brings from the Sefer Chashmonaim that before they went to war against the Greeks they would go to the Beis HaMikdash to daven and blow the Chatzosros before doing battle. 


28.       Question:  Chazal teach that “LeShana Acheres”, the following year, the days of Chanukah were established forever as a time to give thanks and praise Hashem.  Why did they have to wait a year--after all weren’t the miracles immediately self-evident?

Answer:  The Beis Yisrael answers that this is meant to teach us that the act of Mesiras Nefesh of the Chashmonaim was not at a fixed point in history--but rather that the time of Chanukah is Mesugal for Mesiras Nefesh in all future generations as well.


29.       Question:  Was there ever a time or will there ever be a time when we will keep Chanukah for nine days?

Answer:  The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 301) writes that when the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt and we will once again sanctify the moon based upon the testimony of witnesses, those far away from Yerushalayim will keep nine days!  


30.       Question:  Why was a special Yom Tov established over the Neis of Chanukah and not, for example, for the Neis of the wars against Siserah or Sancheirev?

Answer:  The Anshei Knesses HaGedolah foresaw that the Neis of Chanukah would light up every generation in every year as at the time they had occurred--because of this special Koach of Ruchniyus, a Yom Tov was established on these days for all time! (based upon the Kedushas Levi).


31.       Question: In Maoz Tzur, we describe our enemies as Tzor Hamenabeiach--what does this mean?

Answer: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that they act towards us like dogs--not only intending to bite us--but barking at us as well!


32.       Question: In Maoz Tzur we say of Haman’s sons--Rov Banav--most of his sons--were hung. Do not Chazal teach us that Haman had 208 (or perhaps 214) sons--yet we only know from the Megillah of 10 who were hung. What then does Rov Banav mean?

Answer: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, answers that the 10 sons that were hung were the greatest ones--and that the language of Rov is related to Rav--or greatest.


33.       Question: In Maoz Tzur we sing Bnei Vinah Yemei Shemonah Kavu Shir U’Renanim. What is the difference between Shir and Renanim?

Answer: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the Shir refers to Hallel, and the Renanim to Ahl HaNissim which we recite joyfully on Chanukah.



34.       Question:  Why does the Mishna Berurah say that we should begin VeAl HaNissim--not just Al HaNissim?

Answer:  Many answer because on Chanukah we are to thank Hashem not only for the Nissim of Bayamim HaHeim--but also for the Nissim that we each experience in our own lives.


35.       Question: Why do we call the righteous Jews ‘weak’ in Al Hanisim if they were actually strong--actually killing thousands upon thousands of mighty Greek warriors?

Answer:  The Siddur HaGra explains that in their minds they realized that without Hashem’s help, we are always weak!  Similarly, Yosef Hatzadik exclaims in this week’s Parsha, ‘Biladai--it’s not my power.’ (Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita)


36.       Question:  In Al HaNissim we recite LeHashkicham Torasecha U’LeHa’aviram MeiChukei Retzonecha--isn’t this redundant?

Answer:  The Gerrer Rebbe explains that only a person whose mind is devoid of wisdom will engage in sin.  Therefore, the Greeks wanted us to forget the Torah--which would cause us to do Aveiros--U’LeHa’aviram MeiChukei Retzonecha.  It is for this reason that we make extra efforts in Torah study on Chanukah--to fill our hearts with wisdom--with the result that we will stay free of sin!  


37.       Question: In  Al HaNissim, we have been reciting the words “U’Leamcha Yisrael Assisa Teshua Gedola U’furkan K’Hayom Hazeh…--and for Your people You worked a great victory and salvation as this day.”  What does “KeHayom Hazeh--as this day” really mean?  What is the day that we are referring to?

Answer: The Sefer Baruch She’Amar (written by the Torah Temimah) suggests it means to express that although we experienced great salvation then, it was not an eternal one--which is yet to come--for just as this thing called day gets light (as it did at the time of the Chashmonaim), and then turns dark, so, too, will it get to be light once again--and it is that daylight (this time an eternal one) that we await!


38.       Question: We conclude the words of Al HaNissim not only with the words VeKavu Shemonas Yemei Chanukah Eilu LeHodos Ul’Hallel, but with the additional words LeShimcha HaGadol--to Your Great Name.  What does LeShimcha HaGadol mean?



Answer: When we refer to Hashem’s “Name”, we are referring to how Hashem reveals Himself to us in this world.  Moreover, the word Gadol, explains HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, refers to Hashem’s revealing to us of His Middah of Chessed.  This Middah is especially referred to as “Gadol” because it is the Ikar HaGedulah Shel Hashem Yisborach Shemegaleh Lanu--i.e., the Chesed that Hashem bestows upon us in this world is the greatest way He reveals Himself to us.  Accordingly, it very much behooves us to recognize and appreciate that Hashem is revealing Himself to us in this world through the kindness upon which we are making a bracha (or the kindness which we are requesting).  In the Zechus of our appropriate expression of recognition and thanks, HaRav Friedlander concludes, Hashem will increase the measure by which He shows us this “Shimcha HaGadol.”  As we continue through Chanukah let us use it as a springboard of appreciation of the Shimcha HaGadol for the rest of the year by measurably improving in some way the manner in which we make our Brachos.  Just briefly rethinking this thought of HaRav Friedlander before making a bracha could go a long way!


39.       Question: When did the Chashmonaim win the war--on the 24th or the 25th of Kislev--if on the 25th--should not we begin to light on the 26th?

Answer: There is a major dispute on this point.  The Meiri (Shabbos 21B) writes that the victory occurred on the 24th, and the Neiros were lit on the 25th.  The Pri Chadash brings that it is the opinion of the Rambam that the victory occurred on the 25th, and that we begin lighting on the night of the 25th (rather than on the night of the 26th after the victory) because Chazal established the night of the 25th for future generations to specifically remember the miracle of the victory in war which had occurred on that day. The Har Tzvi (by HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Zt’l) has a fuller discussion of this disagreement in his Sefer on Chanukah, Chapter 2.  The Har Tzvi actually brings one authority who used a new Menorah on the second night so that he could make a Shehechiyanu on the second night, as well--making a Shehechiyanu on the first night (the 25th) for the miracle of the war, and the Shehechiyanu on the new Menorah on the second night (the 26th)--to also include the miracle of the oil on that night.


40.       Question: To what Yom Tov does the Gematria of Mattisyahu match and why?

Answer: To Rosh Hashana--with the numerical equivalent of 861.  Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the judgment period, and Chanukah concludes the judgment period, as is alluded to in the Pasuk (Yeshaya 27:9) “BeZos Yechupar Avon Yaakov”--with Zos (i.e., Zos Chanukah, the last day of Chanukah), will our sins be forgiven.


41.       Question: On the fifth day of Chanukah, if one does not have enough oil, is it better to light one cup of oil or light five wax candles?

Answer: It is better to light five wax candles, to be among the “Mehadrin” who light the number of Neiros which correspond to the night of Chanukah. (Chayei Adam 154:24)


42.       Question: Is it considered a Hiddur Mitzvah if you put more oil in the cup than you need?

Answer: The Chayei Adam (154:21) writes that, when using wax candles, there is a hiddur to use longer ones.  This is because longer wax candles appear nicer, not because they will stay lit after the zeman.  See Magen Avraham to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 672, seif katan 3.  Based upon this Magen Avraham, it would appear that the same hiddur does not apply to oil.  One can discuss this with his Posek.


43.       Question: If one did not light at night, does he light in the day without a bracha?

Answer: No, there is no Tashlumin, as a candle in daylight is ineffective (Chayei Adam 154:28).


44.       Question: Why do we eat Sufganiyo(s)(t) on Chanukah? 

Answer: Many have a common answer on the tip of their tongue (or is it lips?).  However, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, has a different insight.  HaRav Auerbach teaches that after ousting the Greek forces from the Beis HaMikdash, the Chashmonaim were able to be me’taher--to purify--everything--except for stones of the Mizbe’ach which the Greeks had ruined and which accordingly had to be put away into genizah, and replaced with new stones.  In order for us to remember what happened to the Mizbe’ach, the custom was to eat something which required an after-bracha of Me’Ein Shalosh, such as Al HaMichya, for this is the only bracha which specifically asks Hashem to have Rachamim “Al Mizbaichecha”--on Your Mizbe’ach.  Indeed, even Birkas HaMazon (in the third bracha), when asking Hashem to have Rachamim upon Yisrael, Yerushalayim, Zion and the Beis HaMikdash does not specifically request His Mercy for the Mizbe’ach as we do in Al HaMichya.  It is for this reason that we eat those wonderful doughnuts--so that we can remember what happened to the Mizbe’ach--and ask for Hashem’s Mercy in bringing the Geulah Shleimah--BeKarov Bimheira V’Yameinu!




25 Kislev

JUDGING ANOTHER: Chazal (Avos 2:5) teach : “Ahl Tadin Es Chavercha Ahd Shetagiyah Limkomo--do not judge your friend until you are in his place.” The Sefas Emes teaches--LeOlam Lo Tagiyah--you will never get there! Perhaps as a special avodah over Chanukah, we can dedicate ourselves to an eight-day introductory program of realizing and implementing--that we will never get to his place!



THIRTEEN! In the first bracha over the Neiros (if one does not recite the word Shel, as is the custom of many), as well as the second bracha over the Neiros, there are each thirteen words--corresponding to the thirteen middos of Rachamim from Hashem. Together, of course, the brachos combine to 26, the Sheim Havayeh. The Sefer Kav HaYashar accordingly and emphatically writes that one should recite these brachos in great Simcha over a Mitzvah that is so chaviv to us!



THE KEPITELECH OF TEHILLIM: As to which Kepitilech should be recited after kindling the Neiros Chanukah, there are various Minhagim. Perhaps the most well-known Kepitelach to be recited (in addition to of course Vehi Noam seven times and Yosheiv BeSeiser Elyon (Tehillim 91) seven times) are Kepitelech 19, 30, 33, 67, 100 and 133. Some additionally recite all of Kepitel 119, and all of the Shir HaMa’alos (120-134). When reciting Chapter 67, some recite it as it is published in the form of a Menorah, ahl pi kabbalah. Finally, some recite the powerful Shiras Chana (Shmuel I, 2:1-10). Hakhel Note: The great Rebbi Pinchas Koritzer, Z’tl (the Imrei Pinchas) writes that: “On Chanukah at the time of Hadlakas Neiros the Ohr HaGanuz descends to us…!” Oh, how we should stay close to the Neiros after lighting them!


FROM A READER:  “On Chanukah gifts:  Other Poskim discuss this and conclude that it is not a problem of chukas akum, as in all likelihood the akum’s minhag of giving gifts on their holidays was taken from us and not vice versa. (See Emes L’Yaakov from Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Z’tl, Siman 670 in the footnote who says this.) The Ponovezer Rav, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, Z’tl, said that after the Greeks forbade the Jewish children from learning Torah, their parents had to ‘bribe’ them with gifts to get them to learn once again. Giving gifts on Chanukah commemorates that aspect of the Chanukah miracle.  Indeed, children should be told when receiving gifts that it is for this reason and that they are expected to increase their Torah learning because of the gifts (see Sifsei Chaim from Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl; Moadim Vol. 2 page 134). See also Shu”t Avnei Yashfeh Vol. 1 Siman 129:2 and Sha’arei Halacha U’Minhag Vol. 2 page 283.  Hakhel Note:  Once again, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final ruling in this area.



IF ONE FORGOT AHL HANISSIM:  One should, of course, endeavor greatly not to forget Ahl HaNissim--as it is a great expression of hoda’ah, and one of the ikarim of LeHodos U’Lehallel on Chanukah. If one did forget Ahl HaNissim and remembers while still in the bracha of Modim before saying Hashem’s name at the end of the bracha, he would go back to where it is recited, and then continue Ve’al Kulam (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 682, Dirshu Note 2). If one remembers after he has said the name of Hashem at the end of the bracha, then he should recite Ahl HaNissim before Yehiyu L’Ratzon Imrei Phi is recited at the end of Elokai Netzor. In such event, before reciting Ahl HaNissim there, he should first recite the HaRachaman that is typically published in bentsching (HaRachman Hu Ya’aseh Lanu Nissim V’Nifla’os…) where one recites Ahl HaNissim if he forgot to do so in the proper place in bentsching and remembers after reciting the second bracha of bentsching (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 682, Mishna Berurah seif katan 4).



MORE TORAH!  The Chasam Sofer urges us to increase our Torah study both quantitatively and qualitatively on Chanukah--for it was Torah that illuminated our victory--and the Torah She’Be’al Peh which continued to shine thereafter for all of K’lal Yisrael!  Now is the time to think about what special Torah project one will celebrate Chanukah with! Hakhel Note: The Sefer Me’or Einayim (Parshas Mikeitz) writes that Chanukah is a time to come close to Hashem through Torah--for the Yevanim defiling all of the oils is symbolic of their defiling all of the chachmos--all of the wisdoms of the world--with only one vial of oil--the Torah--remaining pure!




Special Note One:  The following questions relating to Chanukah were asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita:


Question: Chazal teach that if one is careful with lighting the Neiros, he will have children who are Talmidei Chachomim.  Many people light and do not have children who are Talmidei Chachomim?

Answer: Together with the segulos--you still have to learn Torah!


Question: Is it better to prepare your own wicks as was done until recently, or to use the ready-made wicks, and save yourself ten minutes of preparation?

Answer: If it will involve Bitul Torah for a Talmid Chochom, it is better for him to use the ready-made wicks.  However, for all others, it is better to be osek in the Mitzvah.  Hakhel Note:  The preparation of the wicks is a tradition in many families, and certainty in Chassidic circles, where Rebbes spend much time and effort preparing for the Mitzvah.


Question: If one arrives at his house at a late hour, and has not yet lit, can he awaken his parents for them to be present while he lights?

Answer: It depends on whether they will be happy about getting up.  If one is in doubt, he should not awaken them.


Question: What is considered a greater hiddur--a silver menorah of great value, but which is not so pretty, or a beautiful Menorah made of an inferior metal?

Answer: Just as with the Se’ir Hamishtoleiach, a fat Se’ir is preferable to a nice looking one, so too here does the actual value of the Menorah take precedence over its appearance.


Question:  Did the Kohanim light personal Menoros in the Beis HaMikdash, as they ate and slept in the Lishkos?

Answer: It would be forbidden to light in the Azara because of Ba’al Tosif, but in the places where they ate and slept it would appear that they did light Menoros on Chanukah.



Special Note Two:  What is the word ‘Macabi’ an acronym for?  Many of us may be familiar with its acronym of “Mi Chamocha BaAilim Hashem--who is like You among the strong ones, Hashem?”--for the victory of the Chashmonaim was based upon their utter reliance on Hashem for victory against humanly impossible odds.  The Chasam Sofer, however, teaches that Macabi is also an acronym for “Matisyahu Kohen ben Yochanan,” referring specifically to Matisyahu, as the leader of the Chashmonaim.  What is the lesson for us in this term according to the Chasam Sofer?  We may suggest that it demonstrates the importance of mesiras nefesh by one individual.  Matisyahu, according to many, was not the Kohen Gadol (but the son of the Kohen Gadol, Yochanan), and did not have a leadership position.  He simply determined that action had to be taken, for the Jewish people faced defilement not only for that generation but for all future generations, as well.  He started with his five sons, who risked, and in some instances gave, their lives for salvation, and ended with a Kiddush Hashem of such proportions that the Sanhedrin decided to commemorate the nissim that resulted from this one man’s actions forever and ever.  We cannot underestimate the force--and the effect--that each one of us can have, not only upon ourselves and our families, but also on all of K’lal Yisrael.  Did Matisyahu realize that he and his tiny group of Talmidei Chachomim would bring down the Greek Army?  Did he realize that his single-handed actions would save Jewry from the reform movement of those days?  Quite possibly, he did not realize these effects--but he did what Hashem expected of him, for that was right.  Can we identify a Mitzvah that we, too, can do with mesirus nefesh--performing it fully against the popular or populist view because it is what is right and proper?  We each have tremendous power and potential within us.  We, too, can be a Macabi (what is your acronym--enable it now!).  Let us take the lesson from Chanukah--and empower our opportunities!



Special Note Three:  In a similar vein, HaRav Dovid Kviat, Z’tl, in the Sefer Sukkas Dovid writes that the Chofetz Chaim was asked how Hashem would bring Moshiach if the Jewish people had been experiencing deterioration in each succeeding generation.  The Chofetz Chaim responded that the Geulah will come based upon the pasuk in Malachi ( 3:16 ) “Az Nidbaru Yirei Hashem Ish El Rei’eihu--then they who fear Hashem will talk among themselves” [to strengthen the Jewish people]... and then Hashem will send Eliyahu HaNavi.  HaRav Kviat continues:  “Similarly, at the time of the miracle of Chanukah, the entire Jewish people had not yet repented.  It was only a small band that fought the Greeks.  The majority of the Jewish people were mired in sin.  But following the victory of the Chashmonaim and the miracle of the jug of oil, the nation repented.  Just as from the one small jug of oil, the Menorah was able to remain lit for eight days, so, too, did the few Torah-true Jews miraculously save all of Jewry.  We must understand that the miracle of Chanukah is different from other miracles because it happened at a time when only a minority was worthy.  Therefore, it was established for all generations.  This is alluded to in Al HaNissim, where we say that Hashem gave over “the many in the hands of the few.”  They were few not only in comparison to the Greeks, but they were also few in the people of Israel .  For this reason, their victory was exceptionally miraculous.  So, too, when Moshiach comes will the small knot of Yirei Hashem bring the entire people to salvation and repentance.”  Hakhel Note:  Wouldn’t you like to be among this special group?  We have the lessons and the lead of the Macabim to follow!



Special Note Four:  We present below brachos Shailos relating to Chanukah--culled from the 100 Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos that Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, provided to us in the past: 


Question: Last year I forgot to say Shehechiyanu on the lighting of the first night of Chanukah. Somehow I did not realize it until the next day. I thought that since the happiness of the arrival of Chanukah was over, I would no longer be able to recite Shehechiyanu. Is this correct?

Answer:  No, it is not correct. If one forgot to recite the Shehechiyanu, he should recite it the next night when he performs the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah menorah. If he forgot to recite it the second night he must recite it the third night and so on, until the last night of Chanukah.


Question: My office will be having a small Chanukah party today.  I ordered potato latkes with sour cream and apple sauce and jelly doughnuts.  What are the correct brachos?

Answer: Mezonos for the doughnuts, no additional brocha for the jelly.  Hoadoma for the latkes, no additional brocha for the sour cream or for the apple sauce eaten together with the latke. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 58).


Question: I am aware that if I eat a large amount of Pas Haboh B’kisnin (bread family product), I must wash and bentsch. On Chanukah, my office supplies us with what seems to be an unlimited supply of jelly doughnuts.  Some of us could get pretty full from coffee break.  It would not be too comfortable to wash and bentsch, but if we have to we will.  What is the halacha?

Answer: Doughnuts are generally made from dough which is deep fried. According to most Poskim they are not considered Pas Haboh B’kisnin, and there would be no requirement to wash and bentsch. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 497).




24 Kislev

TESHUVAH! Prior to the commencement of Chanukah, let us make a special effort today to fulfill Teshuvah Bechol Yom!


Hakhel Note: As Tzedakah is also very much associated with Chanukah--especially giving money to Torah scholars (see below), it would certainly be wonderful for us to commence our special Tzedakah giving on the day before Chanukah--today!



WHERE EMBARRASSMENT PAYS: The Chofetz Chaim clearly writes that when one realizes after he has begun speaking that his speech will lead to Lashon Hara or other Dibur Assur in some way, he must immediately steer his words elsewhere--and that even if he suffers embarrassment because of his obvious change in the course of his speech, or simply because he begins to fumble for the right words--this embarrassment is precious in the eyes of Hashem. Certainly, if one realized that he was eating something unkosher or milk and meat together--he would immediately expel the food--no matter how embarrassed he might be. Lashon Hara or other Dibur Assur might involve many more prohibitions than consuming a forbidden food--and most certainly, one must suffer the embarrassment if need be. One thing is for sure--moments of perceived shame are much better to experience, than other, more infinitely difficult suffering in this world and the next!



WAR! On Chanukah we learn how different our approach is to war than the approach that many other nations of the world may have. To many other nations, war may be a means of conquering another people, taking over another property, or filling coffers with the spoils of others. To us, war is a means for us to attain spiritual ends. The Ahl HaNissim Tefillah that we will begin to meaningfully recite tonight clearly emphasizes this point. Unlike the other rules of war: “Masarta Giborim BeYad ChalashimYou delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton into the hands of the diligent students of Torah” [Artscroll translation]. Indeed, as the commentaries point out, at the outset of the Ahl HaNissim, we mention first the Nissim, then the Purkan, then the Gevuros, then the Teshuos, and only last, the Milchamos--quite the opposite from the way other nations would view the nature and chronology of things. We can take an additional, very significant lesson from this. Any human act--whether it be eating, sleeping, taking care of one’s bodily functions, working, communicating with others--can all be done in the framework of a human being who is closer in thought to the physical nature of this world, and to the animal creations that are here. These very same acts could, on the other hand, be done with the view and goal of Torah, Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim--elevating ourselves spiritually in this world, and forever and ever!



EVEN A MINHAG CAN CHANGE! Some might claim that they have the custom of lighting the Neiros, singing Maoz Tzur and proceeding to go eat latkes (or supper). As we will learn over Chanukah, our Chachomim teach us that there is much to be gained from spending time with the Neiros--after all, we declare--“HaNeiros HaLalu Kodesh Heim--these lights are holy.” It is for this reason that many make the point of staying near the Neiros--observing them, reciting Tehillim, perhaps repeating Megilas Antiochus or other stories of Nissim V’Nifla’os while close to the Neiros HaKedoshim. If one’s ‘minhag’ was to light the candles, sing Ma’oz Tzur, and leave, perhaps he can make the effort to change this minhag this year!



GIFTS?  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, points out that one of the greatest lessons Yaakov Avinu taught us in his encounter with Eisav was to avoid Eisav and that which he represents to the greatest extent possible.  Yaakov did not seek to be hurt by Eisav, nor did he seek his friendship.  HaRav Erlanger continued that while Chanukah Gelt is a holy minhag, the concept of Chanukah gifts is one that is taken from Eisav--and one that we must avoid.  A similar misconception taken from Eisav is the thought of the ‘Macabee’ being a strong and heroic figure--as inappropriately adapted by Jewish secular teams and events.  In fact, however, as we recite many times over Chanukah:  Masarta Giborim BeYad Chalashim--Hashem delivered the strong Greeks into the hands of the weak Macabim.”  It is no ‘coincidence’ that Yaakov’s lessons to us in Parshas Vayishlach always come out…before Chanukah!  Hakhel Note: HaRav Erlanger is not giving a p’sak in Halacha regarding giving gifts on Chanukah. He is providing a lesson that he derived from the encounter between Yaakov and Eisav. One should, of course, consult with his Rav or Posek as to whether giving non-monetary gifts on Chanukah is to be frowned upon, encouraged… or treated in any other way!



DREIDEL!  This world is not as simple as it might sometimes appear.  Dreidel seems to be a pleasant, fun-filled and seemingly inconsequential game, reminding us about how the Jews hid in caves to study Torah, playing games at the mouth of the cave to scout for Greek Army troops, right?  Yes, for sure.  The Bnai Yissoschar adds, however, that those four letters on the Dreidel--Gimel, Shin, Nun and Heh are actually very lofty--for they together have a gematria, a numerical equivalent, of 358--which is also the gematria of Moshiach(!), and also of “Hashem Melech Hashem Malach Hashem Yimloch”--Hashem is, was and will be King.  For Torah Jewry, there is profound depth and meaning infused even into what to the world is just fun and games!




Special Note One:  We provide additional important points and pointers on Chanukah:


A.  The days of Chanukah are known as the end of our Teshuvah and Kapara process that began on Rosh Hashana.  The Divrei Chaim of Sanz writes that on Chanukah a person can do Teshuvah and fix even the most serious of aveiros because of the closeness to Hashem that we experience during this time.  He brings the Mashal of a king for whom it is more difficult to grant pardons when he is sitting in his palace surrounded by royalty and royal servants.  However, when he travels the streets of the city, and enters private home, even the commoners who otherwise could not have gained access to him are heard.  With the Kedusha of the Hadlakas HaNeiros, the King of Kings makes his presence felt in our homes.  Some write that our lighting of the Menorah at a level of less than 10 tefachim is symbolic of the Shechinah coming so far down to earth, in a manner which does not ordinarily occur. Based upon this, as alluded to above, we should take the time to daven in front of the Neiros—both before and after Hadlakas Neiros (Sichos Ba’avodas Hashem).  The Sefer Kav Hayashar (Chapter 96) writes that “Malachim Kedoshim VeSarfei Ma’alah” (the Heavenly Host) arrive at a person’s home at the time of Hadlakas Neiros, surround him and answer Amen to his Brachos.  We can well understand why some have the custom of putting on Bigdei Shabbos in preparation for lighting! 


B. There is a beautiful short Tefillah from the Pele Yoetz (p. 426) to be recited prior to Hadlakas Neiros.  If you have (or can purchase) this wonderful Sefer, we highly recommend this meaningful Tefillah.


C.  We present by clicking here a Tefillah found in the Siddur Beis Yaakov by HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, to be recited prior to kindling.  Its recitation, if possible, could put one in the proper state of joyous awe, as we bask--and indeed illuminate ourselves--in the Mitzvah over the eight nights of Chanukah.  If you cannot recite this Tefillah, do your best to contemplate the moment!


D.  The Yesod VeShoresh Ha’Avodah writes that when one makes the bracha of She’asah Nissim at Hadlakas Neiros, he should have in mind great thanks and praise for the miraculous victories in war that occurred, considering it as if these incredible Nissim and Yeshuos were performed for him personally.  Moreover, the Kedushas Levi adds that Hashem does in fact perform Nissim, Niflaos and Yeshuos now (‘Bazman Hazeh”) for all of us both in ruchniyus and gashmius--each person in accordance with his individual needs.  Now this is real ta’anug!


E. The Magen Avraham (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 676, seif katan 2) writes that one recites 36 words in Haneiros Halallu (corresponding to the 36 Neiros, excluding the Shamash, lit on Chanukah).  In most editions of the Siddur that we know of, the Nusach contains more than 36 words.  A copy of the published Nusach of the prayer consisting of exactly 36 words, which is found in the Siddur Rashban, is available by clicking here.


F.  When one lights a candle, it is used as a source of light and especially used to search for something.  In fact, Chazal at the outset of Mesechta Pesachim utilize the Pasuk “Achapes Es Yerushalayim B’Neiros--I will search Yerushalayim with candles” to teach that one uses candles for bedikas chometz.  This being so, what does one search for with the Neiros Chanukah?  The Sefer Zerah Kodesh suggests that it is Yiras Shomayim that one can find in the Neiros!


G.  The Sefer Ta’amei Dinim U’Minhagim brings from the Tashbatz (Siman 258) that before the Chashmonaim went to war, they recited the Pasuk of “Vihi Noam Hashem…” (Tehillim 90:17) seven times, and then the Pasuk “Orech Yamim Asbiayhu…” (91:16) two times, and were then victorious in war!  It is for this (great) reason that many have the custom of reciting these two Pesukim these specified number of times after Hadlakas Neiros.


H.  A reader had previously advised us that he has a beautiful custom (which we believe is based upon the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah) in which, after Hadlakos Neiros and Maoz Tzur, he sits down with his family near the Neiros and reviews the miracles of Chanukah; recalls miracles in Tanach, miracles that happened in the world recently and miracles that have occurred to each of his family members.  What a wonderful custom this would be to institute, at least one or two nights of Chanukah.  If one has no one immediately around him, he can think or read about these miracles while near the Chanukah lights.  Although one may not obtain physical benefit from the burning Neiros, one should most certainly attempt to obtain as much spiritual benefit from them as possible.


I.  We may also suggest reading the Megilas Antiochus  after Hadlakas Neiros one night.  You can find the Megilas Antiochus in English at the following link--http://www.tsel.org/torah/megant/eindex.html  


J.  Some have the custom for a child under the age of Bar Mitzvah to light the Menorah in Shul.  In fact, lighting in Shul is Pirsumei Nisa D’Rabim.  Accordingly, it is a great honor to light the Menorah in Shul, and adults should run after the opportunity.  Moreover, one has the opportunity to make additional brachos that he would not otherwise have at home (Shailos U’Teshuvos Teshuvos V’Hanhagos: Volume 1: p. 282; Volume 4:p.163).


K.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Hilchos Chanukah, 139:1) writes, “We increase our Tzedakah during the days of Chanukah, for these days are especially endowed with the ability to rectify shortcomings of the soul through tzedakah--and especially Tzedakah which supports Torah Scholars in need.”  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the custom to give Chanukah Gelt to children comes from this concept of Tzedaka on Chanukah--putting oneself into a frame of mind to help all those who cannot subsist on their own.  In fact, HaRav Kanievsky notes, his father, the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, would give the Chanukah Gelt to children in his family every year on the fifth day of Chanukah--apparently because it can never occur on Shabbos!


L.  The days of Chanukah are days especially dedicated “L’Hodos U’Lehalel--to thank and praise”, for when all is said and done we remained and remain separate and distinct as a people--unaffected by the false ideologies, philosophies, and beliefs of the outside world.  Of course, both thanks and praise involve the spoken word.  However, when we speak, our words are intended to emanate from our hearts.  Every day, when reciting Al HaNissim and Hallel, they should not be viewed as an “extra” which lengthens the davening in honor of the Holiday, but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate your “Avoda Shebalev--your service of the heart” in true thanks and sincere appreciation for our lives--and for the ordinary and extraordinary miracles that we have, and B’ezras Hashem will continue to be blessed with.


M.  In the Sefer Sichos Ba’Avodas Hashem by HaRav Yaakov Meisels, Shlita:  The Kedushas Levi, Rebbi Levi Yitzchok, Z’tl, once found a group of his acquaintances talking about the wealth and pleasures of the Polish magnate Grof Pototsky.  ”There is no ta’anug--no pleasure--that he has not enjoyed,” said one of the people to the Rebbi.  ”Does he light Neiros Chanukah?” asked the Rebbi.  ”Certainly not, I’m sure that he doesn’t even know how or what it is.”  “In that case,” responded the Rebbi, “he has no clue--no idea whatsoever--of what true ta’anug really is!”


N.  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 6, Chapter 670) brings the following remarkable note from the Chasam Sofer (Yoreh Deah, Teshuva 233):  “The establishment of a special day on the day that a miracle has occurred is a Mitzvah D’Oraysa, and, therefore, the days of Purim and Chanukah are D’Oraysa…and one who violates this and does not make any remembrance of the days of Chanukah violates a Mitzvas Asei D’Oraysa…and it is possible that reciting the Hallel on Chanukah fulfills this Torah obligation.”  These words of the “Heilige Chasam Sofer” have, of course, drawn lively discussion in the Achronim (see Piskei Teshuvos there).


O.  At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, provided a masterful review of many Halachic Shailos relating to Chanukah.  As an example, he discussed the concept of women not doing Melacha for one-half hour after candles are lit.  Rabbi Webster explained that according to most Poskim, the Melachos that are prohibited are the Melachos that cannot be done on Chol HaMoed--laundry, sewing, ironing, etc.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that even baking and cooking (the latkes!) should only be done if there is a need to then do so, and one should not otherwise be washing the floor, washing the dishes, or the like.  Much of Rabbi Webster’s shiur was devoted to contemporary Shailos and the opinions of our Gedolei HaDor.  For tapes or CD’s of the entire Yarchei Kallah, please call 718-252-5274.


P.  The Alter of Novordok, Z’tl, was in hisbodidus, by himself in a hut in the forest for a considerable period of time.  One night, his candle burned out, and in complete darkness, he could not look into his Sefer.  He stepped out into the moonlight.  Suddenly, a man appeared, handed him a burning candle, and quickly disappeared, continuing on into the forest.  The Alter could now go back inside and learn again.  Upon returning home, he took what was left of the candle with him, to remember the great phenomenon that had occurred--how he had miraculously been given light at that moment of darkness.  Several years later, a fire broke out in his home, and the precious remnants of his candle were consumed.  The family feared telling him of this calamity.  When he learned of it, he actually expressed joy.  “This is a message to me from Hashem.  I should not only place emphasis on the great and obvious miracle that occurred to me, but on the miracles that literally occur to me every day.  I don’t need anything to remind me of them, either--I need only look around me, wherever I am and wherever I go!”  Hakhel Note:  If one visits a new doctor for the first time, he is asked to complete pages of questions relating to prior and current illnesses, operations, conditions, and medications.  BE’H, he will be checking the “No” box to most or all of these questions.  However, the fact that the questions are being asked is reason to believe that these conditions and concerns are, r’l, more prevalent than we think.  Every so often, one can imagine himself filling out those forms, checking “No” after “No” in each and every box--and exclaiming, “Thank You, Hashem, Thank You, Hashem for the Nissim Veniflaos that You bestow upon me--every day of the year!”



Special Note Two:  We once again present below several rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Chanukah, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Volume III ):


1.  One should attempt to use the nicest Menorah and Neiros possible, even though the Chashmonaim themselves may have lit with broken earthenware vessels.  The Mitzvah is to be performed based upon “Zeh Keili VeAnveihu”--and not to replicate that which Chazal did not instruct to replicate. 


2.  One may use floating wicks LeChatchila, notwithstanding that at the moment that one lights the wicks he is actually lighting the flammable wax coating and not the oil. [Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, at the Hakhel Shiur, pointed out that, according to other Poskim, it would be best to keep the lighting flame on the wick for a short while, so that the wax will have melted off]. 


3.  Even if there are many Minyanim in a Shul, the Menorah should be lit with a bracha only once at the first Minyan, or in the main Shul Minyan only.  Of course, the other Minyanim and/or the other locations should preferably have the Menorah lit, but without a bracha.  A katan should not light in Shul; if he did so, it should be extinguished and relit with a bracha by a person of age so that there is proper Pirsumei Nissah.


4.  It is appropriate for a katan who has already reached the age of Chinuch to be Yotzei with his father’s lighting(and for the father to have him in mind)--even if the katan will light again on his own [HaRav Elyashiv actually rules that it would be best for the katan who has reached the age of Chinuch not to light at all because he cannot fulfill the Mitzvah which is on the Bayis, so it is a Hadlakah Pesulah, MeIkar HaDin].  HaRav Elyashiv brings that this is also the ruling of the Kli Chemda (to Bamidbar 17:8).  On the other hand, the other household members who are above the age of Bar Mitzvah should have in mind not to be Yotzei with the Ba’al HaBayis and be Yotzei the Ikar Mitzvah themselves.


5.  What does one do when looking at the Neiros?  In his Divrei Aggadah, HaRav Elyashiv writes that one should think about how close we had come to extinguishment of the Menorah--…and how the Chashmonaim did not sit back and wait as it was extinguishing.  Instead, the Chashmonaim worked diligently to purify the oil so that after the Tekufah of the Chashmonaim came the Tenoim, the further development of Torah She’Be’al Peh, and ultimately the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi.  Chanukah is a time to remind ourselves to take action on behalf of Torah--and to actually begin taking that action!


6.  If one cannot light on time, but either at P’lag HaMincha or later in the night--he should light at the time when there is greater Pirsumei Nissah.  To a soldier, HaRav Elyashiv ruled that he should light when more Chayalim would see the Neiros. 


7.  When one is on a plane above an area where the time to light has arrived [see www.chaitables.com], he too has a chov of Hadlakah at that time.  Of course, one cannot light on a plane, and if one would do so, it would be a bracha levatalah.  If at this very time they are actually lighting in his home, he can be Yotzei with their Hadlakah.  If the Neiros were already lit in the home, he would not be Yotzei because “Hadlakah Oseh Mitzvah”--the actual act of lighting is what counts --and no lighting was done at the time that his obligation to light occurred.


8.  Lighting must be done in a ‘Bayis’--accordingly one can light in the Bais Haknesses at the cave of the Kosel, but cannot light at the open area of the Kosel.


9.  If a hotel does not allow a person to light by the doorway (but only in the lobby on a table), then one is not allowed to light at the doorway without the hotel’s permission for this is theft, and one is not Yotzei.  Instead, one should make it his business to be elsewhere for Chanukah. 


10.  One is not permitted to fast on Chanukah.  Accordingly, if one sees that his breakfast is being delayed, he should eat or drink something before chatzos, so that he is not fasting. 


11.  If one forgot Al HaNissim in Shemone Esrei, he should recite “HaRachaman Hu Ya’aseh Nissim VeNaflaos Kisheim She’asissa LaAvoseinu Bayamim HaHaeim BaZeman HaZeh…Bimei Mattisyahu…” at the end of Elokai Netzor, just before Yeheyu LeRatzon. On Shabbos, he should start directly with Bimei Mattisyahu, since one may not add additional HaRachamans (personal  requests) on Shabbos.


12.  We recite full Hallel every day of Chanukah because a new miracle occurred daily.  If one mistakenly recited half Hallel, he should recite the entire Hallel again.  If he cannot find anyone to be motzi him with the bracha, he should think the Bracha in his heart before reciting the full Hallel. 


13.  With respect to the Segulah of giving Tzedaka on Chanukah, it need not especially be before or after lighting--for it is a segulah any time during the day.  The Segulah also applies to distributing Ma’aser money on Chanukah.  One should try to make sure that the tzedakah money actually gets to the poor person on Chanukah, so that he can derive benefit from it. 


14.  One should not put the words “HaNeiros Halallu Kodesh Heim” into an advertisement, because it is a part of a Ma’amar Chazal, and would require Genizah.  Hakhel Note:  Let us consider the sanctity of the words that we are privileged to know so easily and so well!




23 Kislev

POWERFUL! The Sefer Kav HaYashar (96) writes that with every Mitzvah that one does, he creates Malochim Kedoshim. The Kav HaYashar then continues that it is pashut that on any Mitzvah over which one makes a bracha the Malochim gather around the person--listen to the bracha and answer Amen. This is alluded to by the fact that the Gematria of Malach and the Gematria of Amen--are both 91!



AN INVITATION: We received the following precious suggestion from a reader: “Please invite a not-yet religious person to your home for Chanukah lighting. Not only will it inspire them, but it will inspire you and your family. A Lichtegen Chanukah!”



PLEASE WRITE THIS DOWN ON YOUR HADLAKAS NEIROS SHEET!  As we approach Chanukah, the Holiday of the Home (Ner Ish U’Baiso, see below) let us especially remember those who are away from their home and families as Shevuyim with a Tefillah after Hadlakas Neiros.  In fact, your heartfelt Tefillos can commence in advance.  If you believe in Yeshuos--they can happen today as well!:  Begin by remembering Yonasan ben Malka (Pollard) and Sholom Mordechai ben Rivka (Rubashkin).




Special Note One:  We proceed with greater alacrity in our Hachanos for Chanukah:  The Sefer Sichos BaAvodas Hashem notes that on other Chagim, we went into the Bais HaMikdash to bring karbanos and become inspired.  On Chanukah, however, we bring the Kedushas HaChag primarily into our own home with the lighting of the Menorah.  Just as Chassidim may wear Shtreimels on Chanukah, it is reported that HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, wore his Shabbos shoes--to indicate the importance of this very special time.


There is a fascinating ma’aseh with the Bnai Yissoschar (R’Zvi Elimelech MiDinov, Z’tl).  He had always felt a higher level of kedusha, of ruchniyus on Chanukah.  His state was elevated in an unusual way over the eight days.  He decided to ask his Rebbi, the Chozeh of Lublin why this was so--after all, he was not a Kohen and thus in all likelihood was not the descendant (or gilgul) of a Kohen back then, and was not a descendant of the Chashmonaim...so what was this heightened feeling about?  The Chozeh answered that at the time of the Chashmonaim he had been on the Sanhedrin --who came from Shevet Yissochar (the B’nai Vinah, referred to in Ma’oz Tzur).  R’ Zvi Elimelech therefore called his great work the Bnai Yissoschar in commemoration.  We, too, should ready ourselves to be inspired by the uplifting kedusha of the Hadlakas Neiros, the Hallel and the Hoda’ah of Al Hanissim. We may not have a Chozeh of Lublin to tell us who we are or where we came from, but we most certainly recognize and appreciate this unique and powerful period that families and communities have utilized to raise themselves closer to Hashem for more than 2,000 years--and we should take special care to nurture the momentous occasion of Hadlakas Neiros not in the Bais Hamikdash but in our very home...and all of those other precious moments on Chanukah of Torah, Tefillah, Hallel and Hoda’ah.


Hakhel Note:  A Rav asked us to remind our readers that Chanukah is not a time to cancel Shiurim or Motzei Shabbos Avos U’Bonim programs--but a time to encourage them, as the light of Torah shown so bright on Chanukah that it was able to extinguish all of the darkness that the avodah zara of that time was encouraging--and has indeed lasted us to this very day. 



Special Note Two:  We provide the following p’sakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as excerpted from the Sefer Koveitz Halachos by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita. As with all Halacha, one should ask his own Rav or Posek for a definitive ruling in his particular case or situation:


1.  Although one may not use a combination of oil and candles for his Neiros, one may use different oils on any given night, because they are considered similar enough to each other.


2.  One need not use the candle that was used as the candle to light the Neiros Chanukah as his Shamash. 


3.  Even if the glass cups which are inserted into a Menorah cannot stand on their own because of the narrow piece of glass that fits snugly into the Menorah, one can consider the cup to still be a Kli--for it is specifically manufactured to be used in this way. 


4.  One need not clean out his glass cup from oil residue of the previous night, for the residue is considered “shiurei mitzvah”, and is not ma’us.  Similarly, yesterday’s used wicks may light better than new wicks, and accordingly, one may lechatchila use the previous night’s wicks to light with. 


5.  There is no Hiddur Mitzvah in oil burning for longer than one-half hour after lighting.  However, there is still a Ma’alah in putting in more oil as long as people are still passing by--for there is greater Pirsumei Nissa.  Pirsumei Nissa does not apply to Akum viewing the Neiros, but it does apply to non-Shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos who can view the Neiros out of your window.  In actuality, there is no difference between lighting in the dining room or bedroom--one should light where there is the greatest Pirsumei Nissa.


6.  The Halacha that the Neiros Chanukah be lechatchila lit more than three and less than ten tefachim above the ground applies if one places his Menorah at the doorway.  However, if one places his Menorah on the window sill, then the flame of the Ner is recognizable even above ten tefachim, and the neiros may be lit there lechatchila, even if the flames of the Neiros will be above ten tefachim from the floor. 


7.  One should wait for his wife to light if she is not home at the initial candle lighting time.


8.  It is better for the Ba’al HaBayis to designate someone else to light on time as his Shaliach, rather than push off the lighting until later so that the Ba’al HaBayis will be able to light by himself.  This is true even if the Ba’al HaBayis is always at work at this time on weekdays, and will have a Shaliach lighting for him every week night! 


9.  It is better to light with wax candles at the earliest time to light, than to light with oil even a little bit later. 


10.  If the Shamash goes out within a half hour of lighting, and no electric lights are on, one should relight the Shamash. 


11.  If the Brachos on Hadlakas Neiros are recited out of order, one is still Yotzei.  However, if after the Brachos one said something unrelated to the lighting--even HaNeiros Halallu which should be recited later, then he must recite the Brachos again.  Similarly, if one mistakenly recited Shehechiyanu on the second night after reciting the first two Brachos, he must recite the first two Brachos again. 


12.  If somebody is traveling in a car from the time of Hadlakas Neiros until the morning, and no one is lighting in his home, he should stop off at the side of the road, and light Neiros Chanukah in the car with a Bracha.  Even if they are lighting at home, but because of his traveling he will not otherwise see Neiros Chanukah that night, he should light in the car, having in mind not to be Yotzei with the lighting in the home so that he can make a Bracha on his lighting.  Similarly, if a guest wants to light on his own, he should not do so with a Bracha if Neiros are otherwise being lit in his home, unless he has specific intent not to be Yotzei with the lighting back in his home.


13.  One may extinguish the Neiros after they have stayed lit for the shiur of a half-hour, and one may even benefit from them after the half-hour period.  The Minhag, however, is not to use the Neiros for one’s personal benefit even after the half-hour period has passed.  If one needs to do so, he should first extinguish the Neiros and then relight them. 


14.  A son or son in-law at his parents or in law’s home for Shabbos Chanukah should light at their home on Motzei Shabbos even if he intends to return to his own home that night, and he does not even have to eat Melave Malka in their home.



Special Note Three:  Rav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl, (Alei Shur, Vol. 2, p. 455) observes that there were many constant, even daily, miracles that occurred in the Bais HaMikdash.  Upon quick reflection, thousands upon thousands of open miracles must have occurred there.  What, then, was so unique and special about the miracle of finding that one last container of oil?  Moreover, why is it that we do not observe the Holiday of Chanukah as a “Zecher LaMikdash”--as a remembrance of the miracles that occurred while the holiest place on earth was standing?  Indeed, quite to the contrary, Hadlakas HaNeiros is described as a Mitzvah of the home, and lighting the Menorah in Shul (as the Mikdash Me’at)--is by minhag, and not the Ikar Mitzvah itself.


In order to understand why the miracle of Chanukah is so special to us, HaRav Volbe brings the words of the Maharam M’Rottenberg.  The Maharam writes:


“The Hellenistic decrees principally arose because Bnei Yisroel were weak in the service of Hashem…and when they did Teshuva and were ready to be Moser Nefesh--to give their utmost--to properly serve Hashem; they were rescued--miraculously....”


HaRav Volbe continues that this is essentially the path that we have followed throughout our exile.  There is some weakening in the service of Hashem, followed by Teshuva--returning to proper service of Hashem with the proper level of Mesiras Nefesh, which results in salvation.  What exactly is the level of Mesiras Nefesh required?  It is putting in the fullest effort that one can--a demonstration of exertion to the limit in some important way.  Once “teva”, or nature, is taken to the limit, it opens the door for the “natural” next step--which is miracles.  A handful of Kohanim, of Torah Sages, battling--very literally--with the world’s best army—and...winning!  The lesson is that our Mesiras Nefesh is the key to our miraculous survival over the last 2,000 years.


But now, at the end of this long exile, we are tired, inundated with new technologies, scurrying about while multi-tasking, so where does Mesiras Nefesh fit into our picture?  The answer belies the question.  Every person must find some way to rededicate himself to holiness, to purity--especially if it is something to which he has fallen prey in the past.  The Mesiras Nefesh for purity and holiness--for Kedusha and Tahara--is not a Zecher LeMikdash, for it is not relegated or limited to the Holy Temple .  Instead, its essence--as the Chanukah light--is to be brought into our homes, and consequently, into our hearts.  As we prepare for and await the Menorah’s pure light, let us make room for its essence to penetrate within us, and, bli neder, commit to an aspect of Mesiras Nefesh for holiness in some way--so that it is not only Bayamim Haheim--but Bezeman Hazeh!



Special Note Four:  We provide the following Pre-Chanukah Notes from the Luach Davar BeIto:


1.  One should prepare Menorah and wicks in the morning or during the day so that they are ready in the evening without undue delay. 


2.  It is related that Hungarian Jewry preferred to use olive oil from Eretz Yisrael. 


3.  The Gerrer Rebbe stated that Chanukah gives koach to the day before as well--and the proof of this is from Tehillim.  What did he mean?  The Rebbe’s mechuten explained the words of the Rebbe as follows:  If one divides Tehillim by the month, the Chapters of Tehillim that we recite on the 24th day of Kislev are those of Hallel--Tehillim 113-118!


4.  No matter how early one lights (some in New York light 15 minutes after shekiyah)--the neiros should remain lit until at least a half-hour after tzeis hakochavim. 


5.  When lighting each Ner with the Shamash, one should not move the Shamash away from the wick until most of the wick has been lit. 


6.  The Sefer Mekor Chaim writes about the Hadlakah:  Ikar HaMitzvah Lirosam Lismoach Bahem Zecher LeSimchas HaHadlaka Achar HaNeis--it is essential after lighting to look at the candles and rejoice in them--which serves as a remembrance to the simcha that was experienced after the miracle occurred.”


 Hakhel Note:  It is interesting to note that the epitome of the Greek culture, the Olympics, are symbolized by the burning torch.  Compare our neiros, lehavdil, to their torch--it is the illumination of ruchniyus, of closeness to Hashem, to the illusory illumination of corporality and self-satisfaction.  Additional Note:  In a shiur he gave after the Mumbai massacre, HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, said that he had recalled several years ago that a terrorist attack in Eretz Yisrael, rachmana litzlan, had occurred immediately prior to Chanukah.  It is the custom in his family to dance after lighting the Chanukah Licht.  One of his grandchildren asked whether they would dance that year after what had just happened.  His response to his grandchild was “Of course, all the more so, because this is just exactly what they are trying to stop us from doing!”  Let us use the time after the Hadlakas Neiros--in front of the Neiros--to thank Hashem for the nissim and yeshuos he has granted us in the past, and to pray for further nissim and Yeshuos in the near future--the very near future!



22 Kislev

VERY IMPORTANT OBSERVATION:  From Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, relating to last week’s Parsha: “Yosef brought bad reports to his father.  The Midrash says we learn to avoid Lashon Hara.  What were the costs of those words?  Yosef was in prison for 12 years.  His father who had listened suffered for 22 years.  Words can be very costly!” Additional Observation: Yosef related painful dreams to his brothers--which eventually resulted in his being incarcerated in prison in Mitzrayim. Yosef then turned the tables--he spoke to the dejected Sar HaMaskhim and Sar HaOfim in an encouraging and helpful fashion--and was soon after freed from this very prison. It appears that the Torah is teaching us that Yosef learned the lesson. We too must get the message!



AS WE APPROACH CHANUKAH: TWO KEY REMINDERS--1. Remember Hashem’s Miracles for you personally when reciting VAhl Nissecha She’bechol Yom Imanu three times daily; and 2. Teshuva in something Bechol Yom!




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Special Note One: In order to help move us further towards the tremendous ruchniyus we hope to experience when Chanukah commences, we prepare with certain important Questions and Answers, as presented in the Sefer Guidelines to Chanukah (part of the wonderful Guidelines Series by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita). The actual Sefer contains more than 200 Questions and Answers on Chanukah, and should be available in all Seforim stores.  Of course, any final Halachic decisions should be rendered by your own Rav or Posek.


 Is one allowed to fast on Chanukah?

It is forbidden to fast, even if one has Yahrzeit for a parent. A bride and groom do not fast on their wedding day.


Are there other special Mitzvos on Chanukah?

There is a special mitzvah to give Tzedaka on Chanukah and in particular to support needy Torah students. In this way we recall the miraculous fall of the evil Greeks into the hands of the righteous adherents to the Torah. The widespread custom to give Chanukah gelt to children may have developed from this mitzvah. There is also a Mitzvah to devote extra time to Torah study. This demonstrates the defeat of the Greeks who prevented Torah study by their evil decrees.


May one work on Chanukah?

All forms of work are permitted. Women though have a custom to refrain from work for a short time every evening, since they were instrumental in causing the miracle.


When should women refrain from work?

From the time the Menorah is lit for half-an-hour.


What type of work is forbidden?

There are different customs about this. The main custom is to refrain from heavy household chores such as laundering, house cleaning, ironing, and sewing. In Yerushalayim, some women also refrain from cooking.


How far apart should the Menorah’s branches be?

They should be sufficiently spaced that a distance of one thumbwidth (2 cm) separates each light form the next.


Does one need to toivel the Menorah?

No, since this item has no direct connection to food.


May some lights be lit with oil and some with candles?

No, one should not mix the two. All the lights should be either oil or candles. However one may use oil on one night and candles on another night. This is particularly relevant to a person who must travel during Chanukah and is unable to take an oil menorah.


May one throw away used wicks?

Since the wicks were used for a Mitzvah one may not disgrace them by throwing them away in the garbage. One should burn them or wrap them in a bag before discarding them.


Is it preferable to use oil but kindle only one light every night or to use candles but add one each night?

It is preferable to use candles adding one each night. This is a bigger enhancement of the Mitzvah than kindling only one oil light each night.


What should be done if a person did not kindle enough lights?

If the lights are still burning, he should correct the situation by kindling the appropriate number. The Brachos are not repeated.


May a child light the Menorah in Shul?

No, this is not respectful to the congregation.


May one benefit from the lights of the Shul Menorah?



Should the wife kindle the Shabbos lights only after all the Chanukah lights have been lit?

Ideally yes, but if time is short she may kindle the Shabbos lights as soon as her husband had kindled one Chanukah light.


If other Menorahs are also to be lit (e.g. by children, visitors) should the wife wait until all have been lit?

No, she may kindle the Shabbos lights as soon as her husband has lit his menorah.


If the husband is not ready to light the Menorah and time is short, may the wife kindle the Shabbos lights first?

Yes. The husband may still light the Menorah afterwards, provided it is still before sunset. The same applies if the wife mistakenly kindled the Shabbos lights first.



Special Note Two:  In preparation for Chanukah, we recall the words of the Seder HaYom, who teaches as follows: “Yemei HaChanukah Ain LeHisatzeiv Bahem…--on the days of Chanukah one should not be sad, but should show joy and happiness for all the good that we received in these days…and the Mitzvah of Chanukah, although it is ‘only’ a Mitzvah D’Rabbanan should not be viewed lightly in one’s eyes, because it is one of our Mitzvos which are Gedolos V’Nora’os--huge and awesome, as it expresses appreciation for the great kindness that Hashem showed to us. One who is lax in the Mitzvah of Chanukah c’v demonstrates that he denies the goodness that Hashem has given him, that he does not rejoice together with K’lal Yisrael and that he does not care about their rejoicing and comforting….”


Hakhel Note One: The Rambam (Hilchos Chanukah 3:1-3) actually writes that the days of Chanukah are Yemei Simcha V’Hallel. There is much discussion in Halacha on this point--but we can certainly take the words of the Seder HaYom deeply to heart!


Hakhel Note Two: The Bach (to the Tur Orach Chaim 670) writes that the ikar gezeirah of the Yevanim against us was because we became weakened in our Avodas Hashem-- and this is why the decrees of the Yevanim affected our service in the Beis HaMikdash--as they ruined our Mizbe’ach and stopped us from bringing our Karbon Tomid. As a last straw, they attempted to stop us from lighting the Menorah, by defiling all of our oils. Through the Teshuvah brought about by the Chashmonaim who were moser nefesh for the Avodah--great miracles occurred with the very neiros--with the very Avodah--that the Yevanim wanted to prevent. We therefore continue every year Lehodos U’LeHallel --to thank and praise HaKadosh Baruch Hu--which is our very own Avodah Shebalev!  




19 Kislev

IMPORTANT QUOTE!  “Yargil Es Atzmo She’lo Lichos Afilu Ahl Davar HaRaui Lichos --a person must accustom himself not to get angry, even over something that it would be appropriate to get angry about.”  What is the source of this quote-- a book on anger? a book on bad middos?  Actually, it is a Halacha Sefer--the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (29:4).  Please read the quote another time, and another time and another--as Halacha LeMa’aseh!  



QUESTION OF THE WEEK ONE : In this week’s Parsha, the Pasuk (Bereishis 37:28) provides detail on how the brothers sold Yosef. Rashi explains the Pasuk to mean that Yosef was sold “Pe’amin Harbeh--many times.” Why was this so--why did Yosef have to be sold many times--what was the Middah K’negged Middah in these multiple sales until he arrived in Mitzrayim?



QUESTION OF THE WEEK TWO: Chazal (Sotah 10B) teach that in the zechus of Tamar’s Tzinyus, she was zoche to have the Malchus Beis Dovid (who come from her son Peretz) as her descendants. What is the relationship between Tzniyus and Malchus--aren’t they at first blush the opposite of each other--as the king would appear to be the most public figure possible?!



HIZHARU BICHVOD CHAVEIREICHEM LINK : By clicking here, you will find a summary of our recently concluded Review Notes on proper conduct Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, as culled from the Sefer Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita.

Hakhel Note: Many of these important lessons relate to this week’s Parsha!




Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series, as excerpted from the Mishna Berurah (Dirshu Edition):


A. If one inadvertently left price tags on a new garment--can he remove them on Shabbos? HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one would not violate the Halacha of Makeh B’Patish if one does so, as these tags are placed on a garment after is has been completed. However, if it not possible to wear the garment with the tags on it, then HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that one would violate Makeh B’Patish by removing them. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 302, Dirshu Note 17)


B. HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, rules that folding papers and napkins in a special manner on Shabbos (such as in the shape of a boat or other decorative form or shape) is prohibited as Tikkun Manah. Although there may be reason to claim that it is not Tikkun Manah because it is for a one-time use, the Shevet HaLevi nevertheless writes that l’ma’aseh he only permits a simple fold. (ibid., Dirshu Note 21)


C. There is a disagreement as to how one can fold his tallis after use on Shabbos. The Mishna Berurah writes that if one does not fold it on its regular folds, it would be permitted to do so. However, continues the Mishna Berurah, it is vadai adif--certainly better for a person to be machmir upon himself and not to fold the tallis at all. (ibid., seif katan 19)


D. HaRav Nissim Karelitz rules that it is permissible to wear rubber gloves on Shabbos while washing the dishes, for one does not intend to wash the gloves, and accordingly one is considered to be washing only the dishes and not the gloves. However, the Minchas Yitzchak is lenient only for a woman whose hands have scabs and the like, and even then she should be careful not to especially clean the gloves after their use (such as by rubbing them together). (SA, OC Dirshu Note 49)


E. With respect to contact lenses, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that one should not soak them in cleaning solution on Shabbos, as they may have a din of beged, and the prohibition against cleaning a garment would apply to them (this prohibition would include rubbing them clean as well). However, if one had cleaned the lenses on Erev Shabbos and they remained clean, one could place them in a solution which does not clean them but merely keeps their moisture. This is also the opinion of the Shevet HaLevi and R’ Nissim Karelitz. (ibid.)


F. If one needs to wash a child on Shabbos after he dirtied himself, one should take care not to let the clothes which may have been sullied come into contact with water, in order to avoid kibus--cleaning the beged in any manner. (SA OC 302, Mishna Berurah seif katan 25)



Special Note Two: Tomorrow, 20 Kislev, is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, (Yitzchak Ben R’ Chaim Yoel, Z’tl). We provide below a very brief remembrance of his profound and extensive teachings:


A.  Pachad Yitzchok on Purim (Inyan 5, page 40), has a fascinating discussion on the contrast between Yaakov and Eisav.  He explains that Esav’s shoresh is rooted in ‘today’ (Michra Chayom Es Bechorosecha Li) and Yaakov’s shoresh is rooted in ‘tomorrow’, i.e., Achrasis HaYomim (Ad Asher Avo el Adoni Seira’).


B. It is said in the name of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, that the reason Tzniyus does not require one to cover his/her face is because clothes are intended to cover outer portions of the body--and one’s face (Panim) is only the outside part of his inner being (P’nim)!


C. The Mishna at the end of Masechta Brachos teaches that Boaz used Hashem’s name in greeting people, as the Posuk states in Rus “Vayomer LaKotzrim Hashem Imachem.  Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, teaches in the name of HaRav Hutner that Boaz was so excited to see another Tzelem Elokim that he felt compelled to bless him with Hashem’s name.  In a sense, he was making a Bracha over seeing another person created with Hashem’s image!  Oh, how we should value the worth of our fellow man! 


D. At a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Avraham Davis, Shlita, (of Metsudah Publications) said in the name of HaRav Hutner, that if an adult would play ball like a child, he would be unfortunately viewed as an adult playing like a child.  However, if he would have continuously developed his talents since childhood, he could even become a professional.  LeHavdil, the same is also true in everything that we do.  It is up to us to determine whether, as adults, we are just playing like children in the way we learn, the way we daven, the way we speak, and the way we behave towards others…or conducting ourselves as true adults.


E. In the Sefer Pachad Yitzchak, HaRav Hutner teaches that just as there is a difference in the meaning of the word Amen when answering to a Birkas HaShevach or Birkas HaMitzvah (it is true, and I believe it), on the one hand, and a Birkas Bakasha (it is true and may my request be fulfilled soon) on the other--so too, is there a difference between the meaning of the word Baruch when recited in a Birkas HaShevach or Birkas HaMitzvah (when it connotes only praise--that Hashem is the All-Powerful Source and Grantor of all blessing), and that of a Birkas Bakasha (in which the word “Baruchincludes the request that Hashem as the Only Source provide you with the matter or item requested)



Special Note Three:  Points and Pointers on this week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayeishev:


A.  The Torah teaches “VaYaveih Yosef Es Dibasam Ra’ah El Avihem (Bereishis 37:2)--and Yosef brought bad reports about them to their father (Bereishis: 37:14).”  The Chofetz Chaim at the outset of the Sefer refers to these bad reports as the “Ikar Sibas Yeridas Yisrael LeMitzrayim LeChatchila--the original main cause for the entire Galus Mitzrayim!’  We must be sure to apply this poignant and timely lesson from the Parsha in a practical way.  Chazal (Bava Basra 165A) teach that while only some individuals may be predisposed to arayos (immorality), and more individuals to gezel (thievery), everyone is prone to “Avak Lashon Hara”--which is defined as making statements or taking action which lead to, cause, or result in Lashon Hara.  The Maharsha (ibid.) explains that while arayos is a sin which most directly relates to the body, and gezel is a sin directly involving money, Avak Lashon Hara is an iniquity impacting most directly upon a person’s soul.  Accordingly, the Yetzer Hara is especially focused on Avak Lashon Hara and urges everyone to falter here.  We accordingly provide the following Avak Lashon Hara prevention notes (as supplied in the past)--with the hope and intent that if it was Lashon Hara that started the Galus process for K’lal Yisrael, it will be our dedicated and special Shemira from the most predisposed form of Lashon Hara that will once and for all lead us out of this Galus and into an eternal Geulah Sheleima.


Accordingly, we review the extremely important rules of Avak Lashon Hara. The Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon Hara, Chapter 9--recently studied in Shemiras Halashon Yomi) provides us with seven kinds of statements or expressions of Avak Lashon Hara:


1.  “Who would have thought that Ploni (Mr. X) would be where he is today…”  The implication to be gleaned is clear.


2.  “Don’t talk about Ploni--I don’t want to discuss what happened or what will be with him”. Or saying, “I don’t want to speak about Ploni because I don’t want to speak Lashon Hara.”


3.  Praising Ploni in front of those who dislike him (this includes his business competitors)--for we all know where this will lead.


4.  Praising anyone excessively (for you will end up saying--”except for this” or “besides that…” or because the listeners will respond--”Why do you praise him so highly? What about….”).


5.  Praising anyone in public unless: (a) he is known as a Tzaddik, for anyone who tries to attack him will not succeed because of the Tzaddik’s reputation; or (b) you know that the listeners will not disparage him, for they do not know him.


6.  A praise that implies a deficiency--”When he actually does something, he does it properly.”


7.  Praise that will result in harm or loss to (or ill will by) the individual spoken about.  For instance, “Ploni likes to cook a lot”--and, as a result, riffraff come knocking on his door, looking for meals.


Interestingly, the Chofetz Chaim adds that it is also Avak Lashon Hara to speak about someone in a manner which appears to be Lashon Hara (even though it really is not) so that others suspect him of speaking Lashon Hara.  Thus, when speaking in a deprecatory manner about someone, one should explain to them why it is not Lashon Hara.


May we suggest that each of these seven kinds of statements be reviewed two or three times, preferably out loud--to help cleanse ourselves of these deceptive tactics and suggestions of the Yetzer Hara designed to keep us in Galus.


As we know, many already observe the “Shabbos Machsom L’fi” at their Shabbos tables.  Perhaps, in honor of the Parsha’s fundamental lesson, this week we can begin an additional Shabbos Avak Lashon Hara Machsom L’fi --for the entire Shabbos as well!


B. The Pasuk in this week’s Parsha teaches that Yosef Hatzaddik was thrown into an empty pit without water.  Chazal teach that by the Torah specifying that there was no water--it meant to also convey that there were in fact snakes and scorpions in the pit.  Rabbi Yonasan Garfinkel, Shlita provides a unique and beautiful explanation of this Chazal, as follows:  In Perek Shira, we are taught that the snake recites the comforting Pasuk “Somech Hashem Lechol HaNoflim...--Hashem provides support to all who have fallen...”.  The scorpion, in turn, recites the assuring Pasuk of “Tov Hashem LaKol VeRachamov Al Kol Ma’asav--Hashem is good to all, His mercies are on all his works.”  Although the snakes and scorpions may have otherwise been potentially dangerous in that pit--there was a much more potent message of Hashgacha Pratis and hope that they were conveying to Yosef through the Shira that they represented.  There is a splendid lesson here for each and every one of us as well.  We must try to rise above the everyday appearances, the physical circumstances, the material make-up, the ‘first take on things’  to appreciate the spiritual realm of a person, place or event.  There is a whole other world that we may not be able to see with our eyes--but we must remember that our eyes are placed in close proximity to our brain for good reason.  After having made a superficial determination or analysis, try re-thinking or evaluating it for what is really going on--even if a few billion of your neighbors in this world would not know otherwise.  Is it sufficient for us to simply shudder when we see a snake in the zoo--or is there much more for us to think about?  When we are about to make a conclusory judgment about someone--can we not give it another minute of thought as to the 20 or 30 or 40 years of other life experiences that brought him to that point in his life or to the comment he has made or the act he has taken?  If we can strip away the gashmius coatings and attempt to reveal a ruchniyus truth, we can turn ostensibly venom-filled snakes into the creations that began to give Yosef the encouragement and drive to survive away and alone for 22 years.  Of course, we should discuss some of our thoughts with others--especially mentors such as Rabbonim and teachers--but is our initiative that will help get us ‘out of the pit’ and on the road to being a wise and perceptive asset for all of K’lal Yisrael!


C.  In the Parsha, we learn how Tamar was willing to give up her own life in order to avoid embarrassing Yehuda in public.  Chazal considered shaming another in public to be a form of murder.  Rabbeinu Yonah writes that just as a person must give up his life, rather than commit murder (unless in self defense), so too, a person must give up his life rather than shame a person.  Chazal teach that one who shames another in public loses his share in Olam Habba. 


The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the strong Halacha against shaming a person applies not only in public but in private, as well.  Even when giving tochacha to another, one must not shame him (except in certain very limited circumstances).  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked what one can do if he shamed a child, after all, a child is incapable of Mechilla.  Rav Chaim answered, one had no choice, one must wait until the child is bar or bas mitzvah and then ask for Mechilla. Indeed, it is reported that the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, went to a child’s bar mitzvah in order to ask him mechilah because he was afraid that he wrongly rebuked the boy when he was young (the boy was making noise when Rav Chaim was trying to learn).  Let us take the great lessons of the Parsha with us--publicly and privately!


D.  We provide the following essential teaching from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita: The Torah records that when Yosef noticed that Pharaoh’s officials were dejected, he asked them the cause. Yosef had good reason to keep to himself and concern himself only with his own welfare. He had been sold into slavery by his brothers, and now he was in prison due to a false accusation. Nevertheless, he cared about his fellow man, and when he saw someone with a problem he was eager to help.


Several years ago in New York, a man walking alone at night was accosted by a stranger with a gun. At gunpoint the man heard the stranger relate an hour-long tale of woe. Pouring out his heart, the stranger enumerated all his problems. When he finished talking, he apologized to his victim. “For weeks I’ve been trying to find someone who would listen to my story, but no one would,” he said. “I’m sorry that I frightened you, but I just had to get this off my chest.”

(Heard from Rabbi Chayim Zaitchik) Though this incident is an extreme example, all too often people suffer greatly because they are unable to find someone with a sympathetic ear. Chazal understood the therapeutic quality of telling one’s problems to others, and said: “When there is worry in the heart of a man, he should tell it to others” (Yoma 75A) . Talking things out helps relieve strain; it helps a person see his problem in a clearer perspective; and it often helps him discover how he can alleviate or solve his worries. We should appreciate this axiom and lend an ear to those who need it.


A disciple of Rebbi Yisroel Salanter once saw him standing on a street corner, engaged in commonplace chatter and jokes with a stranger. [The student was surprised that his Rebbi was acting in this way and] later asked his teacher about his out-of-character levity. Rebbi Yisroel explained to his student that the man had problems that were weighing very heavily on his heart, and he wanted to alleviate his depression! (Ohr Yisroel, p. 112)


Rebbi Akiva Eiger would adapt the length of his responses to halachic questions according to the nature of his correspondent. He wrote to his sons who were planning to publish his responsa: “[You may find] that I have digressed into lengthy discussions of theory, not directly concerned with practical law. Know that I was motivated by the knowledge that my correspondent was a man who had undergone many trials and much suffering. I have therefore lengthened my reply so that he may have greater pleasure and forget his troubles in the delight of the discussion!” (Introduction to Teshuvos Rebbi Akiva Eiger)


Many people would come to the home of HaRav Chayim Ozer Grodzenski in Vilna for assistance and guidance. Since HaRav Grodzenski was world-renowned, some of the people who needed his help were very nervous and apprehensive about speaking to him. HaRav Grodzenski would therefore jest with them in order to put them at ease! (Heard from Rebbi Simcha Wasserman, HaRav Grodzenski’s nephew)




18 Kislev

MORE ON CHANGE OF WEATHER: As ‘change of weather’ season continues in the northern hemisphere, we remember that it is not the extra-strength Tylenol, or any of the other remedies filling our pharmacy-aisle that gives us our cure.  Instead, we should know that there is a reason that we received this ailment (which could include not properly taking care of yourself), and that it is Hashem--and ONLY HASHEM--Who gives the relief and refuah, and not that ‘sure-fire’ acetaminophen or other ‘Special Formula’ which serves to ameliorate the symptoms, or serves as Hashem’s agent in the cure.  Before taking that aspirin or other tablet or fluid, we should especially reflect upon this, and recite the Tefillah before taking medicine with true recognition and feeling.  The Tefillah Recited before Visiting the Doctor or Taking Medications, is available by clicking here and the Tefillas HaBori--asking Hashem to keep us healthy--is available by clicking here.   Zei Gezunt!



ON PURCHASING OIL : The following is a ruling of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, relating to Chanukah, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Volume III ):  All oils can be used to light, but olive oil is a Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar.  Pure olive oil is better than regular olive oil, and edible olive oil is better than non-edible olive oil--as the closer one gets to the oil of the Bais HaMikdash, the great the Hiddur Mitzvah.  



START DRINKING! With Chanukah advertising everywhere, and Chanukah products filling the stores, we should take it as a real reminder to begin our spiritual preparations for this supernal period as well.  Is there a new Peirush on Chanukah that I will study, a new Sefer that I will buy?  ‘Water, water is everywhere--and there is plenty to drink!’



START THINKING!:  At the end of HaNeiros Halalu we will recite words in which we thank and praise Hashem--Al Nisecha VeAl Niflaosecha VeAl Yeshuasecha.  What is the difference between these three important acknowledgments--Nisecha, Niflaosecha and Yeshuasecha?! 




Special Note One:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn that Yaakov Avinu provided Yosef with a Kesones Passim, which his brothers were jealous of.  Why would such great brothers be so interested and envious of nothing more than a fancy coat or a special glove?  The easy answer is that this teaches us forever and ever how silly jealousy really is.  Some say, however, that the Kesones Passim referred to was really a Middah of “Nesias Chein” which Yaakov imbued Yosef with.  The brothers desired this special chein that Yosef had--for it brought him into the good graces of all.  Hakhel Note:  We can create our own Chein, we don’t have to be jealous of anyone--we just have to provide the Kesones Passim--to ourselves!



Special Note Two: On the words of Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim (23, 5) “Kosi Revaya--my cup runs over”--HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl provides the following great insight (in his Sefer Sha’arei Orah I, p.96, as brought in Growth Through Tehillim, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita): “A cup can only run over if it becomes full first. If there is a hole in the cup, it will never become full and will never run over. This is a lesson for us to constantly remember the good things that Hashem does for us. Don’t forget them. Then the good things will add up--and the happiness will flow!



Special Note Three:  Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, related the true story of a man who worked in Manhattan and gave himself $1.00 for each time that he could have looked up in the street and did not do so.  At the end of the year, he had amassed $2,000.00!  With the money he bought himself a beautiful Menorah--and now proudly and joyfully looks intently at the Neiros Chanukah.


Additional Note:  This is truly a beautiful story. The Sefer Kav HaYashar (Chapter 96) writes that any Ner which is lit for the sake of a Mitzvah has a “Kedusah Nefla’ah Gedolah Ain Shiur--a wondrous and immeasurable Kedusha”.  The Sefer adds that if one would be zoche to Ruach HaKodesh, upon making the Bracha over the Neiros he would actually be able to see into and relate the future, for the Neiros of Mitzvah prophesize just as a Navi does--and relate the word of Hashem! Let’s get ready!




17 Kislev

THE RIGHT TO SAY “NO”: At the Thursday night Agudath Israel of America Convention Keynote Session, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, pointed out that Bechirah Chafshis--free will does not primarily mean the freedom to choose among various different options. Rather, it really means the capability and wherewithal, the capacity and intelligence to choose to tell the Yetzer Hara--”No!”



YOU ARE A CRAFTSMAN: Chazal, based upon the Pasuk in Tehillim (58:2) "HaUmnim Alem Tzedek T'dabrun" teach: “Mah Umnaso Shel Adam BaOlam Hazeh…what should be a person’s expertise in this world, in what way should he be a craftsman?--It should be in the area of controlling his speech.” Chazal teach…that it is in the area of proper speech--when to speak and when to refrain. For further assistance in practical, real-life situations, one should ask his Shailos to the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline, 718-951-3696, 9:00PM  to 10:30 PM , EST.



WOW--HOW CAN I DO THAT? The Rosh (Orchos Chaim L’Rosh, 81) teaches: Ahl Tabit L’Mi She’hu Katan Mimecha Ba’avodah--one should not look at one who is weaker than him in Avodas Hashem or in fear of Hashem--but towards one who is greater than him.


Hakhel Note: This means that we should not put any item of Ruchniyus automatically out of our reach. If he learns five hours a day, or he davens a ten minute Shemone Esrei, or he runs his own Gemach--although one may not feel near this madreigah--one can still make some improvement to demonstrate the direction he wants to be going in--that which he truly admires and where he would really like to be!



Special Note One:  The Chofetz Chaim provides the following clear and definitive guidelines as to disputes:


A. Even if one of the parties to a dispute is one’s close relative--even one’s father, one should not follow him in the dispute, and even if his father commands him to. This is no different than the Halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 240: 15), that if a father directs his son to do an aveirah, the son should not listen.


B. When the sons of Korach did not listen to him, it was surely a bizayon to Korach --but it was the right thing to do, and their lives were spared as a result. Chazal incredibly teach that the very first words of Tehillim (1:1) “Ashrei HaIsh Asher Lo Halach BaAtzas Reshaim--fortunate is the person who did not follow the advice of the wicked-- is referring to the sons of Korach who did not follow their father’s direction!


C. The above relates to a situation in which the son or relative could not influence his father or his relative who is a Ba’al Machlokes. However, if a father or a close relationship respects his son or relative, and the son or relative nevertheless remain silent, then the son will be punished for not taking action to bring peace. One who does bring peace will, as Chazal teach, ‘eat its fruits in this world’, and the keren, the principal amount will still be left for eternity in Olam Haba. Even if one sincerely believes, or even knows, that his father is right--he should nevertheless do what he can to quash the dispute. When one does so, aside from fulfilling the incomparable Mitzvah of Hava’as Shalom, one should realize that his considered opinion as to how correct his father or relative is may really be jaded because of his love or personal negiyus.


D. To appreciate the extent of the need and requirement to quiet Machlokes, let us look no farther than Moshe Rabbeinu--who went out to Dasan V’Aviram in order to bring peace.


E. One should not tire from seeking to resolve a dispute--even if it has been going on for a while, and even for a long time.  Chazal teach on the Pasuk (34:15): “Bakeish Shalom V’Radfeihu”--Baksheihu HaYom VeRadfeihu LeMachar--seek Shalom today, and run after it tomorrow--not despairing and not tiring from attempting to reach the great goal.


F. The Chofetz Chaim refers to the seeking of Shalom as a Middah Kedosha--a holy Middah, and concludes that even if one is not successful with the Ba’alei Machlokes themselves, who refuse to get past the facts as they see them and their hurt feelings, one will still be successful in keeping away or assisting those extraneous to the Machlokes from getting involved or staying involved…and each and every ‘piece of peace’ is immeasurable and invaluable!



Special Note Two: Yes, we are just one week away from Chanukah!  Of course, the week may be used to ready ourselves  with Menorahs, wicks, oils and everything else that we need to make sure that the Ma’aseh Mitzvah is performed B’Hidduro.  We note, however, that in addition to the Mitzvah objects being readied, those involved with and performing the Mitzvah must also be readied.  We are approaching two months since the last of the Chagim ended, and the Yetzer Hara has done a yeoman’s job in attempting to rid us of the sacred vestiges of those inspiring and uplifting days.  We can do much to counter his attacks by making the effort starting today to rise to the great occasion just ahead of us, especially in light of the Seforim that teach that the final judgment of a person is actually concluded on Chanukah.  We may even suggest that the reason one’s judgment is finally determined on Chanukah is in order for the Heavenly Tribunal to determine whether the Kabbalos and improvements we undertook really stayed with us, at least in some ways.  Our Teshuva B’Chol Yom Program should be especially implemented during these days, and one should also be careful to check himself against his Kabbala sheet each day in preparation for and in honor of the miracle-filled days ahead.  The Yetzer Hara does not sleep on other fronts, and so one may want to examine his ways in general--looking for the Yetzer’s thrusts into new areas of daily living (by way of example but not limitation--late to davening, late to learning, more (and not less) time on the cell phone, loose lips in general and ona’as devorim in particular).  Let us use the time ahead to grow in our Avodas Hashem--so that when we stare at the purity of the Neiros this Chanukah--we will also see its beautiful reflection in the purity within ourselves as well!  Remember--the time is now!



Special Note Three: We conclude today a series on proper conduct Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, as culled from the Sefer Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. 



A. HaRav Zalman Volozhiner once saw two people speaking on Shabbos, and thought that one of them was speaking inappropriately for Shabbos. In a soft tone, he approached the person and reminded him that it was Shabbos. The person responded: “No, it was not inappropriate speech, as it related to a certain Mitzvah.” HaRav Zalman apologized profusely and asked forgiveness of having suspected him of inappropriate Shabbos speech. The man quickly replied: “You are forgiven, you are forgiven.” HaRav Zalman then gave the person whom he had mistakenly admonished Birchas Kohanim. HaRav Zalman explained: “Chazal (Brachos 31B) expressly teach that if one suspects another of something which was incorrect, not only must he appease him--but make sure to give him a bracha as well!”


B. HaRav Shmuel Rosenberg, Z’tl, would generally not correct the mistakes of a Shaliach Tzibur, even if they were blatant, for fear of embarrassing him in public. From this we should learn that before correcting anyone in public--even for the purpose of helping the Tzibbur--one must know what the Halachos for doing so truly are.


Hakhel Note: HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, was once at a health resort for Parshas VaEschanan, when the Aseres HaDibros are read. A disagreement arose as to with which trup the Ba’al Kriyah should lein the Aseres HaDibros--the ta’am tachton or the ta’am elyon. HaRav Lopian was asked for a p’sak. Quickly surmising that the Ba’al Kriyah only knew how to lein one way--he authoritatively ruled: ‘Whichever way the Ba’al Korei knows to lein, is the right way to lein!’


C. The first Kabbalah that was found in one of the diaries of the Alter of Slobodka, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Z’tl, was: “LeHizaher BeChavod Chaveiri BeTachlis, BeSavlanus, BeMa’aneh Rach, VeShum Pa’am Achas Lo Behisragshus--To be exceedingly careful with the honor of my friends, To be patient, To speak softly, and never with anger.”  Hakhel Note:  Can we put this into our diaries as well?


D. What propelled the Alter of Novordak, HaRav Yosef Yozel Hurvitz, Z’tl, to become the mussar giant that he was? [Hakhel Note: Today--17 Kislev is his Yahrzeit!] HaRav Yozel was an extremely successful businessman who met Rebbi Yisroel Salanter in a city named Mamel. Rebbi Yisroel asked him to stay a few days so that they could get to know each other better. HaRav Yozel advised Rebbi Yisroel that he had already hired a wagon driver to take him home. Rebbi Yisroel thereupon urged him to hurry back  to his hotel as soon as possible--for perhaps the wagon driver was looking for him--and by being late perhaps he was causing him tza’ar and agmas nefesh.  Perhaps noticing a bit of hesitation, Rebbi Yisroel urged him on further: “No matter how precious the discussion we are having is--it should not be at the expense of another.” HaRav Yozel was so moved by this attitude and approach that soon after he gave up his successful business pursuits--and followed after Rebbi Yisroel to learn true Avodas Hashem!




16 Kislev

UPDATED OLIVE OIL ALERT:  A reader sent us the following link to the Jerusalem Kosher New’s updated page of fake olive oil:  http://tinyurl.com/o4434vu  That page contains a link to a 15-page PDF document with the full list.  Please note that any reprinting of such material must be accompanied by an attribution to the Jerusalem Kosher News - http://www.jerusalemkoshernews.com/ and jerusalemkn@gmail.com



NOT EVERYONE HAS A COLD OR COUGH:  As we proceed through this changing-weather season, one hears more sneezes and coughs, and senses that he should somehow have invested in tissue companies a few weeks ago.  Indeed, ‘You have a cold too?’ is now the starting point of many conversations.  What we have to realize, however, is that just as no two people are alike--no two colds or similar ailments or illnesses are alike--for every person has his own unique and special difficulties and pains. We do not follow the philosophy that everyone has a cold--and that he or she is just part of the everyone. 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 exclaimed by Dovid HaMelech (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:  On feeling pain or affliction, one should say: “Tehei Yisurai Kappara Al Kol Chatosai--may my suffering serve as an atonement for all of my sins.”  Hakhel Note: A bracha to us all--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!



SHIRA! In last week’s Parsha we received a great re-awakening from none other than the Sar Shel Esav as to the power of our daily morning prayers. The Sar tells Yaakov--”Shalchuni Ki Alah Hashachar--send me for dawn has broken”(Beraishis 32:27). Rashi explains why he wants to go--’because I have to sing shira!”  If we take a step back for but a moment--it is none other than the Sar of Esav who is expressing how he does not want to MISS THE OPPORTUNITY to sing shira to Hashem in the morning!  Oh, how we should treasure our Pesukei D’Zimra--and allow ourselves the time and opportunity to recite the words meaningfully--each and every day!



AVAK LOSHON HORA:  Why are words which are prohibited because they could lead to Lashon Hora called Avak Lashon Hora?  What does the term Avak mean and teach us?



ACHARON ACHARON CHAVIV: HaRav Shach, Z’tl, asks why Yaakov Avinu, when about to encounter Esav, sent the sons of the Shefachos first, then the sons of Leah--and kept his especially beloved Rochel and Yosef last and most protected.  HaRav Shach provides an incredible p’shat, which he says is Emes L’Amito” The Shefachos and their sons suffered most, as because they had the least honor in the family, they were ba’alei yissurin--thereby attaining greater kapparah--and the greatest natural protection from Esav.  Next came Leah and her sons who were also lower in spirit because they were not the ikar of Yaakov’s household--so, although not as great as the Shefachos and their children, they too had a higher level of kapparah and protection afforded to them.  It was those who were chaviv--Rochel and Yosef who had to come Acharon, Acharon--last--because they had the least kapparah...and thus needed the most protection!



‘NATURAL’ DISASTER: The recent horrifying events in the Philippines did not simply constitute world news or an international disaster.  We feel deeply and hurtfully for the loss of human life. A reader provided us with the following additional poignant words from the Drashos HaRan (6):  Velifamim Mischadeshim Mikrim B’richuk Makom Uva’iyim Harechokim--and there are times when events occur far away and even on distant islands” in order for K’lal Yisrael to be aroused to Teshuvah.  They should see what has happened, and fear, lest punishment reach them.  This is what the Navi (Tzefanyah 3:6,7) means when he exclaims “Hichrati Goyim Nashamu Pinosam--I have eliminated nations, their towers have become desolate,” I have destroyed their streets without passerby, their cities have become ruins, without people, so there is no inhabitant. I said ‘just fear Me, accept chastisement, so that her dwelling place would not suffer a similar fate’…. When one does not take heed of the punishment meted upon others, the punishment continues to travel, and gets closer. There is no doubt that somebody who sees these punishments, which are true warnings from Hashem, and nevertheless continues in his errant ways, is like one who has sinned and received a warning-- r’l opening himself up to punishment….


Hakhel Note: Let each and every one of us take heed of the Ran’s clear teaching--let us accept upon ourselves Teshuvah in some way. We asked HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, what a simple Cheshbon HaNefesh that anyone can undertake entails. He replied that on a basic level, a Cheshbon HaNefesh can begin by taking one or two items that a person would like to get better at during the day (such as brachos, Shemiras Halashon, arriving to davening or to doing a Mitzvah or at meetings in a timely manner), and focusing on them for several weeks--with  a review at the end of each day, keeping a written record of one’s failures and successes. If one has no particular place to begin his Cheshbon HaNefesh, we provide for consideration the powerful words of the Chofetz Chaim: A person should envision himself as having suddenly lost the power of speech, with all doctors at a loss as to what had happened and how the situation could ever be rectified. An expert doctor suddenly appears, and promptly heals him for no charge! Will not this person--who has remarkably regained his power of speech--always shower thanks and appreciation upon this doctor, and run to do his any bidding--as a sign of unbridled thanks, and as a sign of true love. Most certainly, the recipient would never, ever use his power of speech to speak ill against the doctor!…. Now, let us take a look at our own personal life. Hashem has granted us not only life--but the ability to speak and communicate in a way that no other creation can, so that we will merit eternal life through the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos. When one instead uses his power of speech against the wishes of his Creator, Who renews a person’s power of speech each and every morning when he arises--is he not like the person who uses his newfound power of speech to hurl insults and epithets against the doctor who miraculously healed him?! Accordingly, may we suggest that Shemiras HaLashon...perhaps a special daily Machsom L’fi may be an excellent place to begin a Cheshbon HaNefesh.  


Additional Note: The Rosh (Orchos Chaim L’Rosh, 80) teaches: Al Tisatzel Lehovi Ma’aser El Bais HaOtzar Ki Mattan Besaiser Yichpeh Aff--do not be slow, do not delay  to give Tzedaka privately--for giving Tzedaka privately (where the receiver does not know who the giver is) WILL COVER OVER HASHEM’S ANGER at us. What a special undertaking--endeavoring each and every day to give Tzedaka Besaiser.


We have the answers--we have to be smart enough to use them!




15 Kislev

HERE IS FOOD FOR (AFORE)THOUGHT:  Can a sarcastic statement, comment or response ever be useful?


BRACHA ON COUGH MEDICINES?: “We provide the following important reminder relating to cough medicines as excerpted from Halachos of Brochos, by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim):  Foods which are unpleasant tasting, but are eaten for medicinal purposes (e.g., mineral oil), do not require a brocha.  However, foods which are eaten primarily for medicinal purposes, but are pleasant tasting (e.g., herbal teas, cough drops, chewable vitamins, etc.) are subject to a brocha. Medicines, such as cough preparations that are pleasantly flavored with a sweet syrup, are subject to a brocha. Some Poskim, however, rule that they are not subject to a bracha and it is advisable, therefore, to have intention to exempt the pleasant tasting medicine by first making a Shehakol on another food or drink other than water (unless he is drinking the water in order to quench his thirst, in which event one can recite a brocho on the water as well).”




Special Note One:  At the outset of last week’s Parsha, which describes Yaakov Avinu sending Malachim to Eisav, Rashi writes that they were Malachim Mammash--real angels.  What does Rashi mean to add by teaching that they were real Malachim?  The Chofetz Chaim explains (in another context) that Hashem has many, many Malachim to do his work--and not all of them are angels. As Dovid Hamelech teaches us in Tehillim--“Oseh Malachav Ruchos--Hashem makes the winds His messengers....”  It is up to us to realize that Hashem is constantly sending us messages through what other human beings say or do to you, through natural phenomenon, through an event that occurred in front of your eyes, and through changes in the lives of those you know or are close to.  Yaakov Avinu was zoche to deal with Malachim Mammash.  We may not be in a position to benefit from the assistance or teachings of the Malachim Mammash--but we most certainly should recognize and benefit from the Hashgacha Pratis, direction in life and messages being related to us through Hashem's messengers in all sizes, shapes and forms. As a simple starting point in getting used to a constant appreciation of Hashem's care for you--the next time you are about to get angry, raise your voice or say the wrong thing to someone--stop and think--‘wait a minute--he was Hashem's messenger!’



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi, the Mesader of all of Mishanyos.  The Shelah HaKadosh writes that “Kabbalah BiYadi--I have a personal Kabbalah that a person who is a baki--well versed-- in Mishnayos will not be ‘Roeh Penei Gehenom’--will not see the face of Gehenom.”  The Maharal calls the study of Mishnah the “Yesod HaGadol VeAmud HaBarzel--the great foundation and the iron pillar to all of Torah”(Luach Davar B’Ito).  We provide by clicking here outstanding Limud Mishnayos Chart distributed by Congregation Darchei Tzedek of Baltimore, Maryland.  The chart allows you to follow your progress in learning, on a Mishna-by-Mishna basis, and provides valuable information as to how many Mishnayos there are in each Mesechta and in each Perek of each Mesechta--for all of Shas!  Imagine the glee one will experience if he can mark off his success and complete the entire chart!  Even one Mesechta, and certainly an entire Seder is cause for great celebration as well!  May you be blessed with much success in filling in this very special chart!



Special Note Three:  We were advised by a reader that upon attaining bar mitzvah, a bachur from the U.S. visited with HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Z’tl, and asked him for various Brachos.  One of the brachos that he (or perhaps his father) requested was that he become a ‘Ba’al Middos’.  Upon hearing this, HaRav Lefkowitz asked: “Do you know what a Ba’al Middos is?”  After a moment of silence he continued “It is someone who is mevater--someone who steps into the shoes of the other person—and accedes to their needs and requests.”  Fascinatingly, a different reader advised us that he went to HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, to receive various brachos from him.  When he asked for a bracha for Shalom Bayis, HaRav Zilber advised him that he would not give a bracha for that--because in order to achieve and maintain  Shalom Bayis, one needs only to be ‘Mevater Al HaKol’—step into the place and view of the other person and give in--thus creating your own Shalom Bayis!



Special Note Four:  The Sefer Avodas Penim asks whether every time that we get Hana’ah, a benefit from this world, it actually detracts from a benefit we would have in Olam Haba.  He answers with the following Mashal:  A worker in a supermarket agrees to get paid his salary in kind with items from the store.  The storeowner permits him to take whatever he would like without payment, keeping a record of how much he has purchased on credit, and reduces it from the salary owed.  If, however, the worker elects to pay cash for the items purchased, then his salary will not, of course, be reduced.  When we give the proper recognition and thanks to Hashem for his beneficence, we are paying ‘in cash’ for the Olam HaZeh, and this will not reduce any of the salary that we work for in this world! 


The Chozeh of Lublin actually takes this lesson a step further:


Dovid HaMelech in the Posuk that begins and ends Chapter 118 exclaims “Hodu LaShem Ki Tov Ki LeOlam Chasdo--give thanks to Hashem for He is good; His kindness endures forever.” The Chozeh explains that Dovid HaMelech is teaching us by the juxtaposition of these phrases that the second half of the Posuk is actually a direct and proximate result of the first. If one recognizes and understands that Hodu LaShem Ki Tov--Hashem gives him everything that he has and rightfully and properly thanks Him for it, then Ki LeOlam Chasdo--he will merit that unparalleled second half of the Posuk--Hashem’s enduring kindness forever and ever!




12 Kislev

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  The Parsha of Yaakov meeting Eisav is sometimes referred to as the Parshas HaGalus, and trains us how we are to behave with those seeking us harm or antagonistic to us in Galus.  Yet, this Parsha occurred as Yaakov is on his way back to Eretz Yisrael--and not on his way out to Chutz LaAretz.  It would have seemed that we would learn the Parshas HaGalus not from Yaakov’s encounter with Eisav--but from his encounter with Lavan, which is when Yaakov was exiting Eretz Yisrael for a while--and not on his way back!  Moreover, Lavan was a genuine Akum, whereas Eisav is described by Chazal as a Yisrael Mumar (Kedushin 18A).  Thus, wouldn’t Yaakov’s conduct with Lavan be the better standard and guide for us to learn from?!



CHANUKAH OIL :  In the past, we have noted that there are different grades of purity of olive oil such as “Virgin” and “Extra Virgin”, and readers have pointed out that the distinction may be a dubious one without further investigation.  By the following link, as a ‘heads-up’, we provide last year’s Chanukah update received from a reader on the olive oil marketplace http://tinyurl.com/bqjkrly



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




Special Note One:  Questions and Answers on the Parsha from a reader who carefully studies the Parsha: 




1.  Where is this week’s Parsha can we find a Pasuk, that all the words end with an Enda-Mem?? 

2.  Where in this week’s Parsha can we find the only Pasuk that ends with Vayomer Yaakov??  

3.  Where in this week’s Parsha can we find a Pasuk that has 5 straight words that all begin with the letter of aleph?? 




1.  Perek 32, Pasuk 15.


2.  Perek 32, Pasuk 28.


3.  Perek 36, Pasuk 41.



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


A. From Sefer Refuas Yisrael by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita:  On Shabbos: “…someone suffering from heartburn may not drink a bicarbonate beverage such as Alka-Seltzer (which may pass as a seltzer beverage), or eat an antacid tablet such as Tums (which may pass as candy).  Although these preparations are edible, because they are primarily used as medicine (in this case, to relieve heartburn), they are included in the prohibition, and may not be taken on Shabbos.”  We asked Rabbi Bodner about the permissibility of sucking cough drops on Shabbos.  He responded as follows:  “It may be that cough drops would not be treated like Tums, as people may suck on cough drops in place of candy. If this is so, perhaps cough drops would be considered ma’achel bri’im and would be permitted even if one eats it for a sore throat. We need a factual determination as to how the average person eats it.”  Hakhel Note:  One should accordingly consult with his Rav or Posek as to the permissibility of taking cough drops on Shabbos.


B. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 125 women.   This winter, Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are on Hilchos Muktzah. Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 46 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


47. If I made a cholent with bones, may I take out the bones?

Bones are normally considered as pesoles and therefore one cannot remove just the bones from the cholent. However, as we have learned, if one removes some of the cholent with the bones then it is permitted. If the bones have marrow inside them which one wants to eat, then it is permitted for one to take out the marrow from the bones in order to eat the marrow, but only immediately before the meal.


48. Am I allowed to perform an act of borer for someone else?

Yes, for it is considered as if the person himself is doing the act of borer. However, the rules of borer apply and one must satisfy all three conditions. This is how a woman can prepare the necessary foods prior to a meal for everyone to partake of.


49. If my chicken has some skin on it, may I remove it?

If one does not eat the skin because of health reasons or because he dislikes it, then the skin is considered as pesoles, the rules of borer apply--and one must satisfy all three conditions. Accordingly, one must remove the skin with some chicken together with it, or pull the chicken (i.e., the ochel) away from the skin with his fork.


C. We received a request from one of our readers that everyone properly appreciate the ba’alei kriyah in their shuls—who spend so much time, and put in so much effort to be mezakeh us with a proper laining, including proper trop, dikduk and pronunciation. May we suggest that men in Shul should go out of their way after laining to express their Hakaras HaTov to the baal kriyah, with a personal compliment relating to the particular laining, if possible, as well.  Whether they get paid or not is really not the issue—it is your thanks and middos tovos that must be expressed!


D.  As Chanukah is fast approaching, we note that Chazal (Shabbos 23B) teach:  HaRagil B’Ner Havyan Lai Banim Talmidei Chachomim--if one is careful to properly perform the Mitzvos of Ner Chanukah and Ner Shabbos, he will have children who are Talmidei Chachomim.  Rashi (ibid.) explains that this is based upon the Pasuk (Mishlei 6:23 ):  Ki Ner Mitzvah V’Torah Ohr--through the Ner Mitzvah of Shabbos and Chanukah will come the light of Torah.”  It would certainly be an auspicious time for one to begin and to study in a careful and meaningful way the Halachos of Neiros Shabbos and the Halachos of Neiros Chanukah--whatever your particular reward may be--it will certainly be bright!  Lest you think this is a ‘drasha’--what we have stated is brought in the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 671, seif katan 1)!



Special Note Three: Special Note Three:  In his classic work, In the Beginning, HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl provides the following beautiful and extremely meaningful lessons on this week’s Parsha:


A. “VaYevorech Oso Shom”--The Malach of Esav--the Satan--the Yetzer Hara-- blessed Yaakov.  We  learn from here that the Yetzer Hora, when properly resisted by a person, proves to be his greatest blessing--for according to the effort is the reward (Avos 5:23 ).  If not for tests of virtue, life would be bereft of value.  The long night of battling the Evil Inclination in the darkness of this world is the greatest blessing to us, as Yaakov’s descendants!


B.  When Yaakov met Esav--they wept (Bereishis 33:4).  We also find that when Yaakov met Rochel he wept (ibid. 29:11), and that Yosef wept when his brothers came (43:30, 45:2, and 45:15).  Additionally, Esav and Yaakov embraced and kissed each other, Yaakov kissed Rochel, and Yosef embraced and kissed his brothers. We see that the family of Avrohom and Yitzchak express their love of kin in a highly emotional manner, and we learn from this that it is an excellence of the soul to love one’s kin with powerful emotion.  By loving one’s kin, one comes to love his kin’s kin, and eventually he attains the feeling that the entire House of Israel is his kin.  The perfection of character toward one person tends to spread, and is subsequently broadened to include others.  The fact that even Esav ran toward his brother, embraced him, kissed him and wept demonstrates how deeply ingrained the fervent love of kin should be in family life.”



Special Note Four:  We provide the following points and pointers on this week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayishlach:


A. Although Hashem had promised Yaakov Avinu that he would be sustained, Chazal teach that Yaakov was worried “Shemah Yigrom HaCheit--maybe an aveira would do away with the Brachos that would otherwise come.  What aveira was Yaakov referring to?  HaRav Daniel Movshovitz, Z’tl (the last Rosh Yeshiva in Kelm, who was killed Al Kiddush Hashem), provides an incredible explanation.  He teaches that Hashem’s assurance of bracha to Yaakov was really an assurance to him that he was capable of attaining that blessing--and that if he did the proper hishtadlus, he would be zoche to it.  Yaakov, then, was worried that he would not realize his potential-- not live up to the capabilities that Hashem told him he was in fact capable of.  This is, of course, a great and important lesson to us all. Hashem wants to give us brachos and has unlimited resources--we simply have to properly step into the shoes of the very person whom He wants to give them to.  We are simply hurting ourselves--we are taking away our very own bracha-- if we are weak in Lashon Hara here, easy to get angry there, come even a little late to davening, or in general are not careful enough in areas in which you know you really could be.


Additional Note:  It is no secret that while a child may like to wallow in the mud or dirt, spreading more and more grime on to his arms, face and feet, an adult will try to avoid any of this--and will instead attempt to promptly remove any residual evidence of stain on his clothes or body.  This obvious contrast should serve as a real-life lesson for us all.  When one is tempted to speak when he shouldn’t, miss a learning seder, eat of an unknown Hashgacha, or engage in conduct that he would not feel comfortable with if it was Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur--he should picture himself both as a little child and as a well-respected adult--and then make the choice of getting dirty--or staying clean!


B.  We provide the following outstanding excerpt from the Sefer Aleinu L’Shabei’ach, containing the teachings of HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita, as presented by Artscroll in an outstanding English translation. 


The Posuk states “Im Lavan Garti--I have sojourned with Lavan” (Bereishis 32:5).  Rashi notes: “Yet I kept the 613 Mitzvos.” HaRav Zilberstein comments:  “R’ Gershon Kalivensky told me something about the self-sacrifice of Jews for Mitzvos, even in the land of their enemies-and especially for the Mitzvah of Tefillah:  “During all the years that we were in Siberia , our ‘library’ consisted of a single Sefer--a Siddur.  And even that would not have remained with us, of not for the incredible self-sacrifice of my righteous mother, who guarded that Siddur fiercely and would not let the suspicious Siberian police steal it from her. The police conducted a search through our barracks, and found the stained Siddur.  They wanted to take away with them. My mother, with all the meager strength in her body, refused to let them so much as touch it with their polluted hands. Those accursed men stared at her sternly--a stare that meant something much more menacing than a punishment.  In Siberia that kind of stare meant only one thing--a bullet to the head.  But, amazingly, those evil men backed down from the confrontation and left us alone. I shook with fear. Had those policemen decided to shoot Mother, r’l, there would seemingly have been no one to defend her, for anyone who dared open his mouth would have been finished.  However, at that moment, I witnessed with my own eyes fulfillment of the verse (Tehillim 97:10), ‘He guards the lives of His devout ones; from the hand of the wicked He saves them.’  I later passed this story on to my children and grandchildren, along with the message that a Jew need not fear anyone--no matter what happens.  A Jew fears only Hashem.”


HaRav Zilberstein concludes: “This is what the G’ra meant when he wrote, ‘Akshanus B’ruchniyus Yatzliach--obstinacy in spiritual matters will succeed!’  And I heard from HaGaon R’ Adess that the letters of the word ‘Ivri’ also hint at this idea, as the acronym of ‘Akshanus B’ruchnius Yatzliach’ spells ‘Ivri.  In other words, anyone who is called an ‘Ivri’--a Jew--must be stubborn in his service of Hashem.  And then he will succeed.”


Additional Note: One example of Ivri on these short Shabbosos, is the proper performance of the Mitzvah of Shalosh Seudos.  Neither the Torah nor Chazal provide an exception for the third meal in the shorter, winter months.  Neither man nor woman should fall prey to the weak attitude of those who may be around him, and should plan ahead (perhaps eating less at the earlier Seudah) in order to properly fulfill this Mitzvah.  Chazal teach that one who eats three meals on Shabbos is saved from three puroniyos--three difficult times-- the Din of Gehinnom, the Chevlei Moshiach, and the Milchemes Gog Umagog.  This teaching is, in reality, quoted in the Mishna Berurah, a Halacha work, in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 291, seif katan 1.


C. One other touching teaching excerpted from the Sefer Aleinu L’Shabei’ach:

The Posuk states “Vehuh Avar Lifneihem—then he [Yaakov] himself went on ahead of them “ (Bereishis 33:3)


HaRav Zilberstein comments as follows:


In the city of Holon , there lived a righteous Jew by the name of Elkanah Leisner. He attended the daily Daf Yomi Shiur in the Beis Dovid Kollel.  A punctilious man, R’Elkanah was never late.  There was something else that stood out about R’ Elakanah.  Though he could have made his way to the Kollel via side streets, he chose instead to march along Holon ’s largest thoroughfares, holding a huge Gemara under one arm. Over the course of the years, he met many people who wondered why he bothered carrying the heavy Gemara from home, when the Kollel was equipped with many Gemaras.  And if he wished to learn only from his own Gemara, why take such a big one? When asked about this, here is what R’ Elkanah told them. “My goal,” he said, “is to publicize the study of Torah as much as possible.  That is the reason I try to carry the biggest Gemara I can find - so that everyone will see it, and perhaps more Jews will become interested in coming to the Daf Yomi.” That was the thinking of a Jew, a child of his Creator.


Hakhel Note:  We focus on the first name of this special man--Elkanah.  Elkanah was the name of the father of Shmuel HaNavi who Chazal teach us would take circuitous routes to get to the Mishkan in Shilo so that others would be inspired to come along as well, and was then zoche to a son who would be one of K’lal Yisrael’s great leaders.  The R’ Elkanah followed his namesake’s ideal.  Our names are one of our most precious commodities.  Perhaps we should take a moment to reflect upon our name--and how we can better live up to it.  It may take but one simple, consistent and dedicated act or mode of conduct—to live up to your namesake—and your name!


D. The Torah makes it very clear to us in this week’s Parsha that Yaakov Avinu had a long and difficult battle overnight--with none other than, as Chazal explain, the Sar Shel Eisav himself.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that neither Avrohom nor Yitzchak had this incredible battle--only Yaakov. What was it that so upset the Satan--that he went to do battle head on at this point?!  The Chofetz Chaim explains that this was a pivotal moment in world history.  Avrohom Avinu was the Amud HaChesed which became a mark of his descendants for all time.  Yitzchak Avinu was the Amud of Avodah which separates us from all peoples.  Now, however, came Yaakov--who learned Torah in Eretz Yisrael--kept it in Chutz La’Aretz-- and was returning with Torah to Eretz Yisrael.  The Amud HaTorah would mean the ultimate effective defeat of evil--for it would prove that the Torah of Galus would last and be successfully transplanted back to Eretz Yisrael.  HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, in explaining his Rebbi’s teaching, writes that Torah is literally a Jew’s ammunition--without it, all of the guns, artillery, fighter jets and manpower can simply not do battle.  It is for this reason, Chazal teach, that even if Hashem is mevater on the sins of Avodah Zara, Gilui Arayos and Shefichus Damim--Hashem will not be mevater on the sin of Bitul Torah.  One who disregards his Torah study time and/or does not learn as he could or should is really like a sentry who has been asked to guard the ammunition depot--turns away and lets the terrorists steal it all. Yaakov showed the Sar Shel Eisav that even if he could be temporarily maimed, our essence of Torah could not be defeated.  It is our role as Yaakov’s progeny to follow in his ways.  This means EVER STRENGTHENING OURSEVES in the study of Torah--and not letting weakness set in.  As we are now more than two months after Yom Kippur and counting, with the detours and distractions of Esav’s Sar all around us--we must fight off the difficulties and temptations--to make sure that we are learning more this year--not less. We must make sure that we are utilizing our wisdom and our capabilities to devise and develop new ways to learn and new times to learn-so that we are constantly growing and modernizing our arsenal.  Starting another shiur in your Shul, going through another Sefer, finding another five minutes of ‘downtime’ during the day to learn, trying to help someone else grow in Torah, or utilizing another technique in modern technology for learning--are some of the actual examples of  the weaponry of our survival.  We are soldiers in a lonely army--but the world’s most important and the world’s best.  If we fail in our individual duty, we are hurting ourselves and making the world a more dangerous place.  If we succeed--then we will have realized the full and potential of Yaakov Avinu--and unite with him to together be called Yisrael!


We hope to soon kindle the Chanukah lights.  If we are to sincerely take the lesson from this week’s Parsha --the time is now to rekindle the flame of Torah is now.  It takes just a few minutes of reflection, of thinking ‘out of the box’--to take yourself to the next step in the great and surprising strides you can make over your lifetime in Torah study.


E.  A second essential teaching on the battle of Yaakov and the Sar Shel Eisav:  The Aish Kodesh on Parshas VaYishlach (Bereishis 32: 27,28) poses two important questions:  Firstly, after the Sar Shel Eisav injured Yaakov, why did Yaakov ask him for a bracha--who needed a bracha from this mazik?  Moreover, hadn’t he already received a bracha from Hashem Himself--what more did he need?!  Secondly, why did the Sar Shel Eisav have to ask Yaakov his name--and why, upon hearing it, did he change it?  The Aish Kodesh astoundingly explains that Yaakov, by asking for the bracha, was establishing a precedent for his descendants (based upon Ma’aseh Avos Siman LeBanim)--he wanted a havtacha that after this “injury” something great--a yeshua--would come from it.  He asked for an assurance that when Bnei Yisrael have yissurim it should lead to bracha--not merely an ending of the yissurim--but an actual beginning of salvation and a showering of blessing.  The Sar Shel Eisav acquiesced to Yaakov’s request. Accordingly, he advised Yaakov that although you are called Yaakov now--i.e., getting brachos only after yissurim--your name will be changed to “Yisrael” and you will receive brachos without having to suffer first!  May we be zoche soon to always be referred to as Yisrael!


F.  The Rabbeinu Bachya writes that Yaakov bowed down to Esav seven times before meeting him--in order to demonstrate (and instill within us) that although a Tzaddik may fall along the way seven times--he will finally arise and succeed!


G.  Yaakov then meets Eisav, and they have their world-effecting encounter.  The Sefer Sechel Tov notes that Eisav, upon Yaakov taking leave of him, had kefitzas haderech in traveling to Se’ir.  We can well understand why Eliezer or Yaakov would have kefitzas haderech--but why would Eisav HaRasha--who is even referred to as a Yisrael Mumar have kefitzas haderech? The Sechel Tov answers that Hashem sped his departure so as not to cause Yaakov Avinu undue discomfort in being in close proximity with the rasha. This is the degree to which Hashem watched the righteous.  If you have a rasha who is bothering you--you must remember that it is your fault--not his!


H.  Shimon and Levi are each referred to in this week’s Parsha as an Ish in describing their battle against the wicked people of Shechem--as the Pasuk states “Ish Charbo” (Bereishis 34:25).  We derive from here that that the age of Bar Mitzvah is 13, since Levi was 13 at the time and the Torah goes out of its way to specifically refer to him as an Ish.  As Rabbi Maimon Elbaz, Shlita, puts it: this is because the true sign of being a man--is to be able to stand up against evil!


Hakhel Note:  Indeed, this is the great lesson in preparation for the time that we are in--as the Chashmonaim dedicated their lives to fight those who thought that they were really ‘men’.  In the end, it was not the Greeks who were the ‘Ish’--it was the Chashmonaim who fought against all odds for the honor of Hashem and his Torah.  This too is our mission--to be the Ish…in our times! 


I. At the end of the Parsha, the Torah devotes 43 Pesukim to Esav’s descendants.  Why?  We  suggest that these special passages help us appreciate the Torah’s great and unfathomable depth.  If the Torah was simply telling us a story or giving us a genealogy lesson--most of us would undoubtedly just turn the page--for after all, our inner feelings would say: what interest do we have in this mumar’s descendants?! How could someone like this grow up in Yitzchak’s house anyways?  Who needs or wants these wicked and unwanted relatives?  It is obvious then that Sodos HaTorah--thoughts, ideas and principles beyond the average person’s grasp are placed into these words and letters.  Rather than let the words fly by us during Krias HaTorah--we should be awed and mesmerized by their deeper connotations currently not known to us--the Kedushas HaTorah! Most certainly, when the Moshiach comes we will have a lot to learn.  Until then, we must try to properly honor and respect the Great and Holy Treasure that has been handed down to us. It is much more than a priceless diamond--it is a limitless one!




11 Kislev

We continue today a series on proper conduct Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, as culled from the Sefer Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. 




A. HaRav Shalom Schwadron, Z’tl, would relate that HaRav Elyashiv’s father, HaRav Avraham Elyashiv, Z’tl, would daven that “Hashem save us from new mitzvos and new aveiros.”  What was his example of a new mitzvah?  When one person gets another angry, it becomes a ‘mitzvah’ to put him down and shame him. What was his example of a new aveirah?  It is when one explains that he will not be giving tzedakah to a person because it is an ‘aveirah’ to help that person.


B. Why does a Kohein not make a special bracha every day--She’asani Kohein? The Gerrer Rebbe, Z’tl, explains that we were all originally fit to serve as Kohanim--as the Pasuk states “Ve’atem Tiheyu Li Mamleches Kohanim--and you shall be for Me a kingdom of Kohanim .” Accordingly, if a Kohein would make such a bracha--the Kohein would be honoring himself at the expense of shaming another. This one can never do!


C. The Avnei Nezer once heard someone mention the name of a Jew who was a known rasha, and then added after his name yimach shemo v’zichro. Startled, the Avnei Nezer turned to the speaker and said: “Do you know what the Halacha is regarding a Jew who converted to another religion (a meshumad) who dies without children?” There was no response. The Avnei Nezer continued: “The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 157:5) rules that his wife requires chalitzah. Remember that chalitzah is in the place of yibum, and the reason that we do yibum is as the Torah declares: VeLo Yimache Shemo B’Yisrael--so that a name will not be obliterated from K’lal Yisrael. Think about it--the Torah itself does not want a name in K’lal Yisrael to be eliminated--and you do?!”


D. In a similar vein, HaRav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Z’tl, once heard his relatives curse one of the famous apikorsim who lived in Yerushalayim. HaRav Sonnenfeld sighed and commented:”One should never say such things even about apikorsim--Hashem is full of mercy, and could extend His mercy even to a rasha like this--and even possibly give him Olam Haba. We must fight against what reshaim stand for--as they may ruin others--but it is not our role or part to take away from their Olam Haba. Hashem does not withhold anyone’s reward--even a compliment or an encouraging statement will not be forgotten--there is no bitul of even one good deed, no matter how many aveiros the person commits!” [Hakhel Note: The converse is also true--there is no bitul accomplished by many Mitzvos of even one aveirah!]


E. If a person is given the choice: “Embarrass that Jew in public-- or you will be killed!” The Halacha is that he should allow himself to be killed and not embarrass the Jew in public!! [Tosfos Sotah 10B; Rabbeinu Yonah (Avos 3:11 ); see also Shailos U’Teshuvos Binyan Tzion 172]


F. If a person is accustomed to a particular nickname--even if he is used to it and is not embarrassed by it, it is still prohibited to use this nickname if you intend to shame him when doing so.


G. When someone gives a degrading job to another person to do in order to avoid doing it himself, he is considered to have been miskabeid b’klon chaveiro.


H. The Chofetz Chaim expressed great surprise over those who would reprove others in an angry or harsh tone: Why is the Mitzvah of Tochacha different than any other Mitzvah in the Torah--is one supposed to put on Tefillin in anger, to eat Matzah in anger, to sit in the Sukkah in anger…? After all-- Tochacha, Tefillin, Matzah, Sukkah--are all Mitzvos Asei!


I. The Torah specifically prohibits anyone from hurting an almanah or a yasom with words. The Ibn Ezra (Shemos 22:21) writes that the prohibition applies not only to the one who is uttering the words--but also to one who stands by silently--and does not come to their aid. The Sefer Heichal Habracha adds that in any situation where one witnesses another person being shamed he should not remain silent--but rather object to the greatest extent possible. One who does not do so and remains silent, he continues, is a rasha gamur!


J. The Sefer Chassidim writes that if one has ever embarrassed another, then when he realizes that he is being embarrassed--rather than respond in kind, he should accept the embarrassment and not respond. One should always remember how makpid the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah is about embarrassment--after all, look at the devastating results of the Kamtzah/Bar Kamtzah episode for all of K’lal Yisrael!


K. The Peleh Yo’eitz writes that if one is embarrassed to ask forgiveness of another in person--he should do so through a shaliach or in writing. These are the Halachic solutions to obviate the embarrassment which one would feel when asking for forgiveness in person.


L. Chazal (Yerushalmi Demai 1:3) record that Rebbi Pinchos Ben Yair was once traveling to the Beis HaMidrash, but that the Genai river blocked his path, and the waters were so turbulent that he could not cross. Rebbi Pinchos told the river to split--and the river did so. The students accompanying Rebbi Pinchos asked if they could also cross with him. He responded: “Anyone who knows that he never degraded the honor of another can pass through and will not be harmed. If not--then he should not attempt to cross.” The lesson--when a person is careful not to shame another all the days of his life--he will be zoche to have nature change for him!




10 Kislev



A. Is it not interesting that the master trickster -- Lavan -- is upset when he is the “victim” of trickery, while not caring a whit that he has always tricked others all the time, causing THEM to be “victims” of his own trickery? Is this not a great example of middah-kneged-middah--that he should feel for himself what he bestowed on all around him?


B. I was moved by the following excerpt from the new Sefer Leading with Love-- the teachings of HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, Shlita: “In his Derech Eitz Chaim, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes that during the terrible period of persecution known as “Tach v’Tat” (1648-1649), the Satan was forced to explain why he was inflicting such persecution [on the Jewish Nation]. He replied, “If you will agree to annul Torah study…I will stop the persecution.” The Satan wanted there to be no Torah study. It pains him if we learn Torah, for Torah is the main threat to the Satan’s existence. It is for this reason that in every generation there are decrees against Torah study.” HaRav Shteinman’s directive--Let’s Win the Battle !



IMPORTANT INSTRUCTION FROM THE ROSH! In the Orchos Chaim LaRosh (20), the Rosh instructs: “Yaniach Kol Asakav VeYispallel--one must put to the side all of his business dealings and all matters that could distract him, in order to engage in direct and meaningful prayer to Hashem.” Perhaps, at least before beginning Shemone Esrei, we should think of these four words--”Yaniach Kol Asakav Veyispallel--clearing our heads for the great and comparable opportunity before us!”




Special Note One:  Today is the 10th day of Kislev--two months from the 10th of Tishrei --Yom Kippur (!).  We may add that it is certainly not just another one of those coincidences that the Haftorah for this past Shabbos actually incorporated the Shabbos Shuva Haftarah of “Shuva Yisrael Ahd Hashem Elokecha-- Return , Israel , to Hashem your G-d.”  The Yetzer Hara, disguising himself as Mother Nature, the cold of winter [for those in the northern hemisphere] or whatever else you may want to call him (Chazal say he has seven names) makes sure to remind us that we’ve got to slow down now--after all, birds fly south, animals hibernate, it’s dark when we wake up in the morning and already dark again in the late afternoon by the time we get home.  He shows us how cold, nasty or treacherous it is to go outside to the shiur or do the chesed, and how easy--and “important”--it is to turn over in bed just one (or two) more times.  Our response must be that we are not weakened by the external stimuli, by what the world looks like or does around us, but instead remember Shuva Yisrael--always keep our priorities straight, and keep the proper focus.  Today, on our Asiri LaKodesh, let us invigorate ourselves with a fresh breath of cold air--as we invite in the challenges of winter with a renewal of our own, personalized Avodas Hashem in a way that only we ourselves would know---and be proud of!



Special Note Two: Some additional points from Rabbi Reisman’s Shiur at this week’s Hakhel Yarchei Kallah:


A. Perhaps an imponderable question--how is that men arriving for the 6:00AM Minyan arrive early as a matter of course--and those attending the 8:00AM Minyan--arrive late, as a matter of course?!


B. We should truly appreciate and enjoy airplane rides--especially to and from Eretz Yisrael. After all, how many times does one have the opportunity to be strapped into a seat for hours, with no phones or other distractions--and only Seforim in front of him to be together with!


C. Sleep is not a default setting. It is not something that one does to accommodate his physical pleasures--or even something to do when he has finished what he has sought out to accomplish for the day. Rather, it is a part of the day to be viewed with a cheshbon, with intelligence. Different people will need different amounts of sleep--and the way a new day begins is with a proper night’s sleep the night before. This is perhaps the intent of the Rema who brings at the outset of Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 1:1--The Laws of Awakening in the Morning): “Yeidah Lifnei Mi Shehu Shocheiv--a person should know before Whom he sleeps.” Why does the Rema not write about sleep in the laws of Kriyas Shema Ahl HaMitta (Orach Chaim 239)--it must be because the way one sleeps has much to do with the way one will get up the next morning!



Special Note Three:  Some highlights from Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz’s Shiur on Inside STAM:


A.  One should not believe that because ‘everybody buys at this store’ that it must be appropriate. In fact, the Ben Ish Chai, Z’tl, the Rav of Baghdad, a great metropolis with thousands of Torah Jews wrote that two generations before him--the Rav of THE CITY had to announce to all men to stop making brachos on their Tefillin, because all of their Batim were pasul! The men would have to wait until new Batim were made, one by one! Then, one generation later--now only one  generation before the Ben Ish Chai--the Rav of the city had to do the same thing--this time because all of the retzuos were pasul--and everyone in THE CITY had to have new retzuos made! It is therefore of utmost importance that one be extremely, extremely diligent with all of his Tashmishei Kedusha. In fact, one should realize that, according to the Magen Avraham and other great Poskim there is no Chezkas Kashrus when purchasing STAM.


B. There is also no such thing as a ‘great deal’ when purchasing STAM. If the price one is paying for a Mezuzah, or for Tefillin or for a Sefer Torah, is less than your friend, neighbor or relative paid--it is not because it is a metziyah--but it is because there are one or more of the many possible issues with it which have caused the Sofer or the seller to reduce its price.


C. When purchasing, one should always ask: Who is the sofer? Who was the magiyah (the one who reviewed the safrus)? Were they certified, and if so, by whom? Who does the sofer ask his Shailos to? Could I have a magiyah of my own review?


Hakhel Note: If one would reads the outstanding recent work by Rabbi Mendlowitz, Inside STAM (Israel Bookshop)--he would truly get a great picture of the current issues and status of STAM. As in all areas, there are two kinds of people--those not in the know--and those in the know. There are not too many opportunities that the average person has with what Halacha calls Tashmishei Kedusha--items of holiness. We must accordingly act with the greatest care, concern, love and appreciation of Tashmishei Kedusha--that which Hashem Himself calls holy!




9 Kislev

FROM A READER: When I sneeze, and there is no one else present, I say “Chaim Tovim!”.



IT’S NOT ONLY QUANTITY: The Sefer Chofetz Chaim on many occasions alerts us to the fact that when one is over an aveira--there is not only a quantitative aspect to it, but a qualitative one as well. For example, when two people speak Lashon Hara together to others, not only is it Lashon Hara being spoken twice--it adds to the negativity of the Lashon Hara being spoken--as it lends it more veracity and power to it. The same is, of course, true in Mitzvah performance--as any Mitzvah--from putting on Tefillin to complimenting a person who appears down--can be done better and better by putting more thought into it and by carrying it through meaningfully and to completion. In this world, we see smaller boxes and larger boxes, smaller houses and larger houses. In both cases, it may only be one box or one house…but the size makes all the difference. So too, when we perform Mitzvos we must remember that it is not only the number of Mitzvos that we perform, but the size of each and every Mitzvah!




Special Note One:  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, brings a startling question on last week’s Parsha from the Ponovezher Rav, Z’tl: Yaakov Avinu, had just left the Beis Midrash where he had been studying for 14 hours non-stop, and arrives in a foreign land looking for Lavan. In his first recorded communication with the outside world, this Yeshiva man expresses his displeasure with how the working people he encounters are doing their job--telling them that (Bereishis: 29:7):  Hein Od HaYom Gadol…--the day is still long; it is not yet time to bring the livestock in; let your flock drink and go on grazing.” How could he--a Yeshiva man, a foreigner, have the audacity to tell them how to do their job? Furthermore, astonishingly, rather than rebuking him and/or hurling insults upon him--they actually explain themselves to him (Bereishis 29:7,8): “We are unable to, until all the flocks have been gathered…”  How could this be--why did they listen to him at all--why did they explain themselves to him? The answer, the Ponovezher Rav explains, is that when Yaakov first began to address them--he used the word Achai--my brothers (Bereishis 29:4). The Yiddish equivalent of the word Achai is ‘Mein Tayireh Brider’--my precious brothers. The expression clearly indicates a feeling of closeness and caring. There was immediate bonding. Indeed, in last week’s Parsha, the term Achim appears numerous times. HaRav Salomon teaches that the Torah is emphasizing that being Achim should play an important role in our lives--for it means that we are not a brotherhood--but like blood brothers to each other. In fact, the Torah emphasizes “Banim Atem LaHashem Elokeichem”--you are all sons to Hashem. If we are all sons to Hashem--then we are all quite literally brothers! When someone has lost an object, when someone needs Tzedaka or another Chesed, when someone needs to be properly guided--remember he is not an outsider--he is not a stranger--he is, quite literally, your brother!



Special Note Two:  At yesterday’s outstanding Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, brought a great teaching from HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl. HaRav Schwab asked--all of the brachos in Birchos HaShachar appear to be in order of the events of the day that have transpired until that point. Then, the last bracha begins HaMa’avir Sheinah Mei’eiynai--thanking Hashem for removing slumber from one’s eyes. Should this not have been one of the first brachos--as it seemingly describes one’s awakening in the morning? Additionally, HaRav Schwab asks, this bracha then continues and goes into a long series of important requests for the day: Shetargileinu B’Sorasecha, V’Dabekeinu BeMitzvosecha, V’Al Tivieinu Lo Lidei Cheit…. What do these important requests have to do at all with the bracha’s beginning, which relates to removing slumber from our eyes? HaRav Schwab answers that the bracha is not referring to physically waking up in the morning--but to the fact that we proceed through the day living a life in which we are ‘awake’--not ‘farshlufin’--not walking around in a daze, without thinking--but rather fully aware of the challenges that face us during the day as they present themselves--so that we will be able to successfully accomplish they day’s purpose and goal!


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Special Note Three:   Did you ever look at a person and realize that you really know so little about what lies behind the face—the life experiences, the joys and disappointments, the accomplishments and the difficulties, the successes and the failures—all bundled  into that one body and soul?  The following are the comments of HaRav Pam, Zt’l, presented in The Pleasant Way (by Rabbi Sholom Smith, p. 62-63):


“In the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 344:1) it is written that it is a great mitzvah to eulogize a deceased person, and that in fact it is even permitted to slightly embellish the words of tribute.  The Taz (ibid.) wonders why this is permitted:  Is it only forbidden to utter a big lie--but small lies are permissible?  If the praises are exaggerated, why are they allowed [at all] and, moreover why are they even encouraged?  The Birkei Yosef (ibid.) answers that slight embellishment is permitted because people are generally not aware of the attributes and accomplishments of the departed person, either because his deeds were not publicized or because he concealed them.  The embellishment is in all likelihood very close to [or perhaps itself even falls short of] the beautiful truth about this person.


A Maggid (heavenly emissary) was sent to HaRav Yosef Karo, Zt’l, the author of the Bais Yosef and the Shulchan Aruch, to teach the most esoteric secrets of the Torah.  Some of these Torah thoughts are found in the Sefer Maggid Meishorim.  The Sefer notes that the Maggid described to HaRav Karo the greatness of his Rebbetzin’s soul, so that he would realize who she was and appreciate and honor her properly.


Why did the Maggid need to tell HaRav Karo about his wife?  Can one contemplate for a moment that the HaRav Karo had Shalom Bayis problems or c’v mistreated his wife, thus requiring a Maggid to set him straight?  Of course not, but knowing her full greatness--not previously known to HaRav Karo--would serve to even further enhance the great respect and honor he already undoubtedly had for her.


There is a great lesson to be learned here.  One can never know the true value of one’s friend or neighbor.  Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to respect and honor every person--young and old--with whom one comes into contact.  Only then will a person properly fulfill his interpersonal obligations.”


Hakhel Note: When you sum-up a person, don’t just jump to conclusions based upon what you know about him. Instead, you should recall that in truth you don’t know everything there is to know about him--and realize that he really may be (and probably is) a much better person than you think!




8 Kislev

Special Note One: Several notes on last week’s Parsha:


A. In the Parsha, Yaakov Avinu pledges that whatever he is given, he will take Ma’aser from. The Divrei Siach brings that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita was asked the following question: Shimon owes money to Reuven, and is not paying him. Reuven does not want Shimon to be held accountable for gezel, and does not want to be involved in a machlokes with Shimon. Accordingly, for purposes of Shalom, he wants to waive the loan and deduct it from his Ma’aser obligation. Can he do so? HaRav Kanievsky answered that if one realizes that he cannot collect on a debt due to him, he cannot deduct it from Ma’aser.


B.  The Pasuk (Bereishis 29:1) teaches: “Vayisa Yaakov Raglav--and Yaakov lifted his feet.” Rashi comments that Yaakov felt especially good over the Besora Tova that he had received. We should appreciate the lesson of how important it is to relate Besoros Tovos to others, and additionally, to make people feel good! You too can make someone lift their feet in joy!


C.  Lavan told Yaakov (Bereishis 29:14): “Ach Atzmi U’vesari Attah--you are my ‘flesh and blood’”--and so Yaakov stayed with him for a month.... If Lavan can say this--all the more so, must we show special consideration and care for our relatives--of whom the Navi expressly exclaims (Yeshaya 58:7): “U’Mibesarcha Lo Tisalam.”--do not hide yourself from your kin!


D.  The name Yissocher is usually not pronounced Yissoscher--although there are two Sins that appear in the word. The Chazon Ish told the Ba’al Kriyah in his Shul, however, to lain it Yissoscher in Parshas Vayeitzei. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that a possible reason for this could be that Yissoscher gave a Sin in his name to his son Yov--so that his name would be changed to Yashuv, a more appropriate name for him (as Yov was the name of an avodah zara at the time). The next time that the name Yissocher is mentioned in the Torah, it is after he had given over the Sin to his son, so we pronounce his name as Yissocher--without the Sin!


E.  We find that Yissocher is born before Zevulun. Zevulun’s great zechus is in supporting Torah--but Torah must come first--in order for it to be supported! The Sefer Toldos Shimshon by HaRav Shimshon Chayim (B’R Nachman Michoel) Nachmani, Z’tl, writes that although the world stands on three things--Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim--we must always know that Torah comes first, for from Torah comes everything else. It may be the role of some to support Torah (which HaRav Nachmani writes falls within ‘Avodah’!), and the role of yet others to be Gomlei Chesed--but Torah Jews... have the study of Torah as the first priority!


F.  Upon reaching Yaakov after pursuing him, Lavan complains to him ‘Vatignov Osi ‘(Bereishis 31:27) -literally, you have stolen me. Rashi explains that this means ‘Ganavta Es Da’ati’--you tricked me, or deceived me. The lesson is a great one--when one tricks or deceives another--it is so severe that the person considers it as if he had been kidnapped!


G.  From a reader:  After Lavan confronts Yakov about the manner in which he left Charan, he makes a strange statement, “Now-you have gone because you longed greatly for your father’s house; by why did you steal my gods?” (Bereshis 31,30).  Part of Yakov’s reply was “Eim asher timzah as elohecha lo yich’yeh-With whomever you find your gods, he shall not live.”  Aside from Lavan’s unusual statement, Yakov’s use of the phrase “lo yich’yeh” instead of the more expected “y’mus” must also be understood.  HaRav Eliyashiv, Z’tl, is his commentary on the Chumash explains Lavan’s words to say that after listing all the complaints he had against Yakov, he appears to give a rationale, that Yakov longed for his father’s house, to be reunited with his holy parents after over 20 years of separation.  However, if that were the case, if spirituality was his goal, why would he bring idols with him, by taking those belonging to Lavan?  This seems to explain the strange order of Lavan’s statements.  Rabbi Menachem Zupnik, Shlita, added the following thought to HaRav Eliyashiv’s explanation.  After a long day at work, a ba’al habayis comes home, but cannot stay long to help his wife out, as he must make his way to shul for Mincha/Ma’ariv, or for learning.  He seeks spirituality, to return “to his Father’s house”, yet he brings with him and uses electronic devices, or he spends more time with his friends catching up on news that davening or learning.  These are akin to Lavan’s idols; bringing them to our Father’s house, is not the source of life.  For who has those things with him, who spends his time with his devices when he should be davening or learning, lo yich’yeh, they are not the actual source of chiyus, of our vitality.


H.  After all of Lavan’s complaints about Yaakov running away from Lavan, and of not allowing him to kiss his children and say ‘Good bye’ to them, the Pasuk records that Vayashkeim Lavan Baboker (Beraishis 32:1)--the next morning, Lavan got up early to leave. His actions were clearly not in-synch with his words. A person’s true feelings and true priorities can best be seen not necessarily by what he says--but by how he acts. If Tefillah or Torah study is so important to him--would one not make every effort to be among those who ‘turn on the lights’, rather than those ‘who have time’, or who come a few minutes late? If Shemiras HaLashon is important enough to him--does he ask Shailos on the Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline or to other Poskim as to the many situations that come up in his life? If giving Tzedakah is important, wouldn’t one take the initiative of giving even when not asked? ... If Lavan got up early in the morning to leave--showing his true essence--we too, have to demonstrate ours!



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn how Yaakov Avinu dealt with business matters--with complete reliance on Hashem. In today’s economic climate, many of us may be faced with financial strain, and be placed in situations in which our honesty and integrity are put to the test--sometimes to a smaller, and sometimes to a larger, extent. We must understand that whatever happens to each one of us on a financial basis is--just as the rest of our lives--Hashgacha Pratis for us, and that if we were meant to lose $3,156.23, that is exactly what we are to lose, or to gain $7,248.99, that is exactly what we are supposed to gain. Of course, even who we lose the money to--or gain the money from--is part of the very same unfathomable Divine Providence.


An important Avodah in these troubled times for us is to understand that everything comes from One Source and Only One Source. If we remember Hashem by reciting Tehillim Chapter 23 before we eat, by reciting Birchas HaMazon with increased Kavannah, and by realizing and appreciating from time to time that every ounce of food, our shelter, our clothing, all comes from Hashem Yisborach.   By understanding and appreciating the relative wealth that we do have, we will move closer to the great accomplishment of a close relationship with Hashem Yisborach.


In order to bring this point home, we remind ourselves of the following popular mashal from the Sefer Orchos Tzadikim in Shaar HaSimcha:


“This may be likened to 100 blind individuals walking one after the other, with each one placing his hand on the shoulder of the one in front of him, with one person who can see at the head of the line leading all in back of him. Every one on line knows that though he is placing his hand on the shoulder of his friend, and that his friend is in front of him, he is not really being led by his friend. Rather, all are being led by that one man who could see at the head of the line. If this first man would move away...they would all stumble and fall.”


This, the Orchos Tzadikim teaches, is what every thinking person must take to heart. He must realize that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is the Leader, and that we are the people who cannot see following in back. Although we may have our hand on the shoulder of the one in front of us, we may be helped by our “friends” (i.e., bosses, business colleagues, partners, customers and clients, etc.), in fact, no one of these friends could succeed but for Hashem Yisborach at the beginning of the line, Who lovingly, unswervingly, and with limitless omnipotence and omniscience, knows how to lead!


Neither the employee nor the employer, the service provider or the customer, the seller or the purchaser, should be either haughty or humbled by his position--for they are all led by the True Leader at the head of the line--the One who sees--and will always see--for all of us!




5 Kislev

QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE : Chazal (Brachos 26B) teach that we learn from this week’s Parsha, that Yaakov Avinu established the Ma’ariv Tefillah--the evening prayer. Yet, our day begins in the evening--why did Yaakov establish Ma’ariv, should not Avraham Avinu have established Ma’ariv, Yitzchak--Shacharis, and Yaakov Avinu--Mincha--as the third and final Tefillah of the day?!



QUESTION OF THE DAY TWO: The Pasuk records that the Malach Hashem instructs Yaakov to leave Lavan’s house and return to Eretz Yisrael (Bereishis 31:3). Upon Yaakov relating this information to Rochel and Leah, they responded: “Ha’od Lanu Chelek…have we then still a share and an inheritance in our father’s house? Are we not considered by him as strangers? For he has sold us…” (ibid., pesukim 14-16). Why did Rochel and Leah respond in this way--why did they simply not exclaim: ‘If Hashem wants us to go, we will go!’?




Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final p’sak:


A. From a reader, who is a known mechaber on Inyanei Shabbos:  “Relating to making personal request on Shabbos, the Likutei MaHariach explains not praying for requests, which we usually assume is forbidden on Shabbos, is actually not so straight-forward. The Or Zarua maintains that public prayer requests are permitted, and that only private and personal requests are forbidden on Shabbos. In this vein, any standard prayer text that is said by all of Klal Yisrael is considered a tefilas rabim, public prayer, even if the tefila is actually recited in private. Furthermore, the MaHariach cites the Magen Avraham (Siman 288) who holds that only requests for health and sustenance are forbidden on Shabbos, but the requests for forgiveness for sins should be mentioned every day, including Shabbos. In addition, the Sdei Chemed and Levush say that only requests for the salvation from present and ongoing problems are forbidden. According to these leniencies, why then was the Shabbos Shemone Esrei changed to remove all the normal requests we pray for during the week? Sdei Chemed suggests the reason was merely to make davening shorter and to avoid thinking of our worries on Shabbos….


The reality is that in every Shabbos Shemone Esrei we make requests that are spiritual in nature. In the middle bracha which concludes with Mekadesh HaShabbos, we say, “Sanctify us with Your commandments, and grant us our share in Your Torah, satisfy us from Your goodness and gladden us with Your salvation, and purify our hearts to serve You sincerely.” Clearly, spiritual requests are permitted. This is necessarily the case given that the Rambam (Tefillah 1:4) describes the structure of prayer. Every Tefilla must be comprised of three parts: 1) praise of Hashem, 2) a request of some kind, 3) an expression of gratitude. Shabbos Shemone Esrei is no exception to this rule. That is why although material requests are forbidden on Shabbos, spiritual requests are permitted, and even obligatory in the Shemone Esrei itself.


This explains the Retzei insertion in Birkas HaMazon. We pray and ask for Hashem to give us rest on Shabbos and that there be no distress, groaning, or lamenting—no tzara, yagon, or anacha on the holy day. This is certainly a request. Furthermore, we ask Hashem to rebuild Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash in the third bracha, every time we bentsch on Shabbos. These are all spiritual requests and are permitted. 


Based upon this as well, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach states that saying the tefilla of Rav Nechunyah ben HaKaneh before Torah study is also permitted because the prayer is spiritual in nature, requesting that we succeed in our Torah study and uncover truths.


In fact, the spiritual requests we pray for on Shabbos are the basis for all of our success in Torah and mitzvos.  Rav Shlomo Wolbe emphasizes that the aforementioned middle bracha of Shabbos Shemone Esrei shows us that although we have mitzvos all week long and we recite brachos which stress the kedusha of mitzvos-(Asher Kidshanu B’Mitzvosav), on Shabbos we sense a deeper connection to the mitzvos and our spiritual success during the week can only come from the holiness of Shabbos. All week long we have a portion in Torah but on Shabbos that portion can become much more profound and meaningful. So we daven, in the middle bracha, for Hashem to grant us the ability to achieve this special connection to mitzvos, on the day of Shabbos itself and for the entire week. It is only fitting that on a day devoted to expanding our ruchniyus, we can, nay, we must, request Hashem to help us increase our meaningful personal growth and avodas Hashem.”


B. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 125 women.   This winter, Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are on Hilchos Muktzah. Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 41 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


42. How can I take off the fat on top of my chicken soup?


The rules of borer apply, and one must satisfy all three conditions. The fat may be poured off from the pot with some soup or spooned off with some soup.


43. How can I remove the pit from a peach?


The rules of borer apply, and one must satisfy all three conditions. One can eat the fruit and discard the pit or remove the pit with some fruit.


44. Is one permitted to squeeze out the oil from a tuna can with the can cover?


The prohibition of squeezing a liquid from a food item only applies only when one’s intention is to use the liquid. Therefore, there is no prohibition of squeezing the oil out of the can for one does not want the oil. Since there is no prohibition of squeezing, one is permitted to squeeze out the oil for immediate use.


45. How does one remove the cluster of seeds from a honeydew or cantaloupe?


Many Poskim are of the opinion that it is permitted to remove the cluster for immediate use for it is considered as Derech Achila, the normal manner of eating, to remove the seeds before serving. Other Poskim say to shake out the cluster; while other Poskim rule that one should take out the cluster with some fruit.


46. Is one permitted to use a nut cracker to shell nuts?


A nutcracker is permitted to be used but only for immediate use to remove the nut. After breaking open the nut one may only take the nut from the shell.



Special Note Two:  We provide the following points and pointers on this week’s Parsha, Vayeitzei:


A.  At the outset of the Parsha, Rashi teaches that the Torah goes out of its way to state that Yaakov left the place, to teach that when a Tzaddik leaves a place, it leaves an impact.  Why was this lesson taught to us by Yaakov Avinu--and not by Avraham and Yitzchak?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that Yaakov Avinu was an Ish Tam Yosheiv Ohalim--one who spent his time in the Bais HaMidrash, and would not otherwise be known to the people in the same way as others.  Nevertheless, we must know that his departure from a place makes a lasting impression--just as in the same way as Avraham Avinu who was known to all!


B.  There is a notable question many have asked relating to the Parsha--and an incredible response, given by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, which we have provided in the past, but which we repeat because of its incredible lesson to us.  Rashi teaches that Yaakov Avinu went to study in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever for 14 years prior to traveling to Lavan in Charan.  What could he have studied there--after all did not Avraham Avinu come to the Torah on his own without being taught by any of his ancestors (including Shem or Ever)?  Indeed, the Torah teaches “Because Avraham…observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My teachings” (Bereishis 26:5).  The Pasuk seems to indicate that it was Avraham Avinu--and no one else--who observed the Torah.  So, once again, what was being taught in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever?  We might think that the Seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach were being taught there in tremendous depth.  HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, however, rejects this approach.  Instead, he simply and succinctly states that “they studied Yiras Shamayim”.  What an extraordinary teaching!  Yaakov Avinu, the “Bechir ShebeAvos--chosen of the fathers”, the last forefather, from whom came all of the shevatim--and after whom we are all named as the “Bnei Yisrael”--studied fourteen years of Yiras Shamayim--the fear of Heaven--before going to meet the challenges of the world outside him!  We can now well understand why the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 603, seif katan 2) brings from both the Arizal and the G’ra that one should study a Mussar text every day.  Let us be smart and inculcate this great lesson from Yaakov Avinu--now is the time to rededicate and reenergize ourselves in the daily study of a classic Mussar work!


Additional Note:  HaRav Kanievsky, teaches that the Yeshiva of Shem V’Ever where Yaakov studied for 14 years was actually in Be’er Sheva itself.  Why, then, was he not worried that Eisav would find him there?  It must be, HaRav Kanievsky teaches, that Yaakov knew that Eisav would not set foot into a Yeshiva--notwithstanding the primary importance he placed on attacking Yaakov.  Hakhel Note:  If Eisav had such an overbearing revulsion to entering a Yeshivah, we must appreciate this and conversely instill within ourselves a great passion for entering a Yeshiva at each and every opportunity that we can!


C.  If Yaakov was told by Rivka not to come back from Lavan’s house until she called for him--why is Yaakov held accountable for not showing Kibbud Av, to the extent that Yosef was separated from him for the same 22 years that he did not demonstrate Kibud Av V’Aim to his parents?  HaRav Kanievsky incredibly explains that it was Yaakov’s responsibility to daven that he should not be put into a position in which he would not be able to honor his parents!


D.  Yaakov Avinu came back to the place of the Beis HaMikdash when he realized he had passed it, exclaiming “Can it be that I passed by the place where my fathers davened and I did not daven there?!” (Rashi to Bereishis 28:17)  HaRav Kanievsky explains that we should learn from here that one should daven in a place that a Tzaddik davened, and that it is a segulah to daven in a place where Tefillos previously had been accepted. 


E.  How could Rochel have given the Simanim to Leah, when she knew that Yaakov thought that he was marrying her?  She was helping Leah--but was she not hurting Yaakov!?  HaRav Kanievsky teaches that Rochel understood that Yaakov would accept Leah as his wife as well--so that in this way she was saving her sister and at the same time fulfilling Yaakov’s quest for marriage.  As the Pasuk shows, she was in fact correct--as Yaakov remained married to Leah, who gave birth to the majority of his children!


F.  Yaakov Avinu told Lavan “Im Asher Timzah…--with whomsoever you find your gods, he shall not live.”  Rashi cites the Midrash which states that because of this curse, Rochel died shortly thereafter.  This teaches how careful one must be with his words--even if he feels totally in the right and otherwise fully protected.  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in Love Your Neighbor, brings this teaching, and the following story to further illustrate the point:


The Chofetz Chaim was once eating a meal at an inn together with Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman and a few other people. One of the guests present mentioned that the, food lacked salt. The Chofetz Chayim whispered to him, "That's Lashon Hara." At first Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman did not understand how such an innocent statement could be construed as Lashon Hara. But a short while later when Rav Elchonon entered the kitchen, he saw the owner, who had overheard the guest's comment, strongly censure the cook for not having taken sufficient care in preparing the meal for his prominent guests. (Heard from Rabbi Aharon Paperman, who heard the story from Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman)


G.  After Lavan accused Yaakov of stealing his idols, and did not subsequently find anything to verify his accusation, Yaakov did not say anything that would antagonize Lavan or stir up further animosity.  He merely defended himself and restated his own innocence.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that we learn from here that a person should avoid becoming involved in a dispute even when he knows that he is right. (ibid.) 



Special Note Three:  The Bnei Lavan bitterly complained that Yaakov had taken their father’s wealth and made for himself “Es Kol HaKavod Hazeh” (Bereishis 31:1).  The Vilna Gaon asks why the Torah uses the word “Kavod” here, when we know that, as Chazal teach --”Kavod is Torah”.  The Gaon answers that the word Kavod is, in fact, written here without a “Vav”--to teach us that while wealth may appear to be a source of Kavod, there is really something very much lacking in the Kavod that is limited to wealth alone.  Indeed, by using the term Kavod with the Vav missing, the Torah is indicating that even the sons of Lavan should have known better--and realized that money in of itself is not honor.  However, we do ask Hashem for a Parnassah BeKavod (with a Vav) both in Bentsching and in Birkas HaChodesh.  We suggest that there are two aspects of wealth which are afforded a higher station:


A. The recognition that Hashem has appointed this or that wealthy person as a “Trustee” to properly distribute the entrusted assets (See Igeres HaRamban).


B.  If one acts properly and honestly with his money (the Pachim Ketanim of Yaakov in this week’s Parsha), then the money becomes sanctified and elevated as an object of Kiddush Hashem.


If we treat our assets and our wealth as a Trustee, and with utmost honesty and integrity--then the word Kavod in our Tefillos can have a Vav in it--because then it is complete! 



Special Note Four:  As we encounter two Chasunahs in this week’s Parsha, both of Leah and of Rochel, we provide below several informative questions and answers from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Sefer Derech Sicha), relating to Chasunahs:


Q:  Does a Chassan who is “Domeh LeMelech” have to nevertheless stand up for his father?

A:  Yes--for even a King must stand up for his father.  In fact, according to Rav Elyashiv, Z’tl, a Chassan must also stand up before a Talmid Chacham, even though a Melech does not.  This is because a Chassan is only “Domeh LeMelech--like a king”, but is not fully a king!


Q:  Does the Chassan have a mitzvah to be MeSameach himself?

A: It appears that it is a Machlokes Tenoim (based on a Sugyah in Maseches Avodim Chapter 2)


Q: In order to properly fulfill the Mitzvah, must one be MeSameach both the Chassan and the Kallah?

A: No--being MeSameach either one fulfills the Mitzvah and brings all of the reward.


Q:  Is it permissible to turn down a Kibbud at a Chasunah?

A:  Yes, one can only not turn down the offer to lead Birkas HaMazon.


Q:  In the order of “Ailu Devarim She’Adam Ocheil Peiroseihem BaOlam Hazeh” that we recite every morning, we recite “Bikur Cholim, Hachnosas Kallah, U’levayas HaMeis.”  Why is Hachnosas Kallah placed in between Bikur Cholim and a Levaya? 

A:  In the name of his father, the Steipeler--this teaches us that if one who is sick gets involved in Hachnosas Kallah, it can literally save his life.


Q:  Should a Chassan avoid going to Shul during the Sheva Brachos week, because if he goes, the Tzibbur will not say Tachanun?

A:  The Mishna Berurah states that a Chassan should not go to Shul, so that the Tzibbur will say Tachanun.  However, the Chazon Ish states that this is not the Minhag--and that Chassanim should go to Shul [for a discussion as to the Mishna Berurah’s intent here, see Piskei Teshuvos Vol. II, p.74].




4 Kislev

Special Note One:  We provide the following practical Halachos from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch:


1.  When reciting the pasuk Poseiach Es Yodecha in Ashrei one should have KAVANNAH GEDOLAH--not only in the meaning of the words--but also in his mind daven for sustenance for himself and all of K'lal Yisrael.


2.  When reciting the first Pasuk of Shema, one has to focus on the meaning of each word.  This does not mean however, that one has the license to improperly draw out a word in order to have the Kavannos [one can have any additional Kavannah necessary before or after reciting the word].  Accordingly, although when reciting the word ECHAD one should clearly recognize that Hashem is the One and Only in the world Who rules in and over the seven heavens and earth below (represented by the letter Ches--having the numerical value of 8)--and spanning all four directions (represented by the letter Daleth--having the numerical value of 4), one should nevertheless be sure not distort the word ECHAD to ECHA-AD, or to ECHA-DE. 


3.  One cannot daven in front of a mirror, even if he closes his eyes. Hakhel Note: Some Shuls or other places where people gather to daven may have reflective windows in which a person can see his image--care should be taken not to daven in front of these windows.


4.  We face towards Yerushalayim and the Kodesh HaKodoshim in our Tefillos because that is where the Sha'arei Shomayim--the Gates of Heaven are located--and all of our Tefillos ascend from there!


5.  When taking three steps back, a left-footed person moves his right leg (the weaker leg) back first--indicating his hesitancy to leave the King's Presence.



Special Note Two: We continue today a series on proper conduct Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, as culled from the Sefer Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. 




A. Why does the Torah not identify the kind of tree the Eitz HaDa’as was? Chazal (see Bereishis Rabbah 15:8) teach that it was because Hashem did not want to disgrace this tree forever--as the tree over which the world was punished for thousands of years. If Hashem was concerned about the honor of the Eitz HaDa’as in this way--all the more so should we be concerned with human beings, making sure not to shame anyone in any way. In fact, shaming a person is brought by Chazal as a form of killing him. Moreover, The Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:139) teaches that the pain caused by disgracing another is worse than death.


B. In order for us to fathom how horrible it is to shame another, Chazal (Bereishis Rabbis 65:16) teach that Aviyahu, the king of Yehuda, passed away at a young age because he embarrassed one of the greatest reshaim of all time, Yeravam Ben Nevat.


C. Hashem greets Moshe at the sneh--the burning tree, and advises him that he will be the leader to take K’lal Yisrael out of their desperate servitude in Mitzrayim. Moshe refuses day after day for a seven day period--because he does not want Aharon, his brother and the leader of K’lal Yisrael at the time, to be offended. Upon reflection--having a glimpse of Aharon and his greatness--would he really have been hurt? He would have been overjoyed over K’lal Yisrael being redeemed! We see from here how we must avoid even the perceived pain of another. (Sefer Ohr HaTzafun, Chelek Bais) The Sichos Mussar (II: 18) adds that when Hashem was upset with Moshe Rabbeinu, it was not for his refusal to go--but over his not treating Aharon with the proper regard! Indeed, that is why Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu that not only will Aharon not be pained by Moshe’s selection--but will see Moshe and be glad of heart (“VeRa’acha VeSamach B’Libo”). Furthermore, continues the Sichos Mussar, if Moshe would have been right--that Aharon would have been upset--then Moshe would have been correct in rejecting his position as leader!


D. Chazal teach that someone who commits suicide does not have a chelek in Olam Haba. Yet, Chazal also clearly teach that if one has a choice in front of him--either to shame another person, or to throw himself into a fiery furnace, as was the case with Tamar who could have shamed Yehuda by identifying him or be thrown into the fire--then in that case one will not lose his Olam Haba for taking his own life. From this we can see how serious the sin of shaming another is--as even suicide is permitted as an alternative! (Sefer Penei Yehoshua to Bava Metziah 59A)


E. One always looks to double his rewards--his points, his profits, and the like. HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Shlita, brings Chazal (Avos 4:1) who teach that “Who is honored? He who honors Hashem’s creatures, as the Pasuk (Shmuel I, 2:30) says ‘Ki Mechabdai Achabeid--I will honor those who honor Me.’” How does the Pasuk brought relate to those who honor Hashem’s creatures--the Pasuk only refers to honoring Hashem Himself?! The answer is clear: When one honors Hashem’s creatures, he is also honoring Hashem--performing a double Mitzvah!


F. An amazing insight: Chazal (Brachos 14A) teach that if an honorable person passes by, and one is in between the Parshios of Kriyas Shema--one can actually greet him. One can also respond to anyone who greets him. This is brought in Halacha in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 66:1) How could this be so--one is in the process of being mekabel Ohl Malchus Shomayim and Ohl Mitzvos--how do other human beings fit into the picture? HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, explains that the answer is that demonstrating respect to others is part and parcel of demonstrating respect to Hashem!


G. Rebbi Yitzchak of Vorki, Z’tl, provides daily life-guiding advice: When Chazal teach that one should greet another, they use the phrase: “B’Sever Panim Yafos” (Avos, 1:15). We most certainly can understand the term Panim Yafos--a pleasant countenance. What does the word Sever add? Rebbi Yitzchak explains that even if one does not cherish the person that his is about to greet, even if one does not appreciate his opinions or his deeds, even if he is not ‘my style’, and even if one feels that it is a burden to deal with this person--even then one must greet him with Sever--with thought--so that at least he feels liked, and perhaps even good about himself, rather than feeling hurt, offended or a burden. Sever Panim Yafos, then, teaches that the way one greets another is not just a natural reaction--it is a thoughtful one!




3 Kislev

QUESTION OF THE DAY :  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 230; seif katan 7) writes that if one sneezes, his friend should immediately wish him “Asusah!” (to your health, gezuntheit), and the one who sneezed should respond with the words “Baruch Tehiyeh”--blessing his well-wisher, and then continue by reciting the three word Pasuk of (Bereishis 49:18) “Lishuasecha Kivisi Hashem--for Your salvation I do long, Hashem!” This is because until Yaakov Avinu, one would literally sneeze, and his life breath would leave him. Yaakov davened to Hashem that this not occur and Hashem heeded his Tefillah. We recognize this fact--and continue to daven as well. What if a person is alone in a room and sneezes--should he say anything upon sneezing? Can he not wish himself well? Should he recite the Pasuk of “Lishuasecha…” in all events?



HE DID IT! The Chofetz Chaim writes that after 120 years when a person’s life is replayed, the Famalyah Shel Ma’alah--tens upon tens of thousands of Heavenly Hosts behold a person’s deeds in this world as his life is reviewed. While the thought of this may be cause enough to prevent a person from speaking Lashon Hara here, words of Ona’as Devarim there, getting into a machlokes with someone, or coming to davening or a Shiur late for no good reason--one should perhaps consider even more that it is not only those tens upon tens of thousands of Malochim viewing a person’s misdeeds--it is Hashem Yisborach Himself!



PRE -EMPT TERROR:  We learned last week that it is the voice of Yaakov, rather than his muscle, that will defeat his enemies in war (as we see with the Chashmonaim a little later this month).  If this is true for war, it is also most definitely true for terrorist attack as well. Three times daily, as part of our personal requests in Shemone Esrei, we plead: “Vechol HaChoshevim Alai Ra’ah Meheira Hofair Atzasam Vekalkel Machashavtam--and for all those who plan evil against me, quickly annul their intent and thwart their plans.”  We certainly can have special Kavannah here for ourselves and the rest of K’lal Yisrael.  Dovid HaMelech goes out of his way to teach us the efficacy of our prayers in this regard:  “Dorashti Es Hashem V’anani U’Mikol Megurosai Hitzilani--I sought out Hashem and He answered me, and from all my terror He delivered me (Tehillim 34:5).  We can take these few moments during the day to PRE -EMPT TERROR as only our Tefillos can.  Let us bli neder make the commitment to help ourselves and K’lal Yisrael at this crucial time in world history--in an incredibly real and result-filled way!



NEWS AS HISTORY:  In one of the beautiful footnotes in the Artscroll Edition of the Talmud Yerushalmi Mesechta Shevi’is, the Sefer Alei Tamar is quoted as explaining the Pasuk Zechor Yemos Olam (Devarim 32:7) as follows: “Through studying history, one sees how Hashem Yisborach runs the world and how He applies the principles of reward and punishment.” We may add that this is true not only of history--but of ‘today’s history’--the news. One must take care not to ultimately view or explain events--whether major or minor--based upon political, social, economic or any other intellectual or physical consideration. One should never believe a newspaper article’s suggestions or explanations to the contrary--notwithstanding where one may have seen or found the article. Instead, we should be guided by the truth--anything and everything that happens, not only that which happened 1,000 years ago, 100 years ago, or even one year ago--but anything and everything that happened yesterday, is happening today, and will happen tomorrow is Hashem Yisborach running the world! Remember it--and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!



VOLUNTARY PREPARATION:  As we know, we are required to prepare for Pesach by studying its Halachos 30 days in advance, and according to many Poskim, the same is true for Sukkos and Shavuos. The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429, Dirshu Note 1) writes that the same is not true for Chanukah--and one is not required to study its Halachos in the preceding month. This means that when in preparation for Chanukah we do delve into the 15 Simanim of Hilchos Chanukah in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 670-684)--we are doing so on a voluntary basis--and hopefully L’Sheim Shomayim! Enjoy!




Special Note One:  In last week’s Parshas we learn of the special emphasis and significance placed in the Torah on receiving brachos from others--especially from a parent and/or a great person.  We provide several important reminders from the Sefer Pele Yoetz relating to the giving and receiving of brachos from other people:


  1. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (22:9) “Tov Ayin Hu Yevorach...” Chazal (Sotah 38B) teach that this Pasuk alludes to the fact that one with a good eye always gives brachos to other people.  The one who blesses others will, in fact, also be blessed himself, as the Pasuk also teaches (Bereishis 12:3): “Va’Avorecha Me’Varachecha--I will bless those who bless you!”


  1. One gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem by blessing others, and if the bracha is successful and produces results, one has performed a special act of Chesed to that person.  In fact, some Poskim allow one to give a bracha to his friend even if it is immediately before he makes a bracha to Hashem (such as on a food item), because it is considered an honor to Hashem as well to bless another person!  The Zohar, however, teaches that before blessing another person he should first bless Hashem (such as by reciting “Yisborach Shemo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu’) as the Source of all bracha.


  1. One should not be stingy in giving brachos, as Shlomo HaMelech teaches (Mishlei 3:27) “Al Timnah Tov…--do not withhold good from the one who needs it, when you have the power in your hand to do it.”


  1. Likewise, one should always be mishtadel to receive brachos, as Chazal teach (Rus Rabba 7:15 ) “Were it not for the brachos that the elderly women gave to Na’ami--there would never have been a Bais Dovid!”


  1. One should especially desire and seek brachos from Talmidei Chachomim and Tzaddikim, because their bracha is ‘kerova lihiskayeim--close to being fulfilled.’  In any event, continues the Pele Yoetz, Hashem will bless this person directly, because in seeking their brachos, he demonstrates his esteem for Torah and Tzaddikim!

  2. One should also seek brachos from the poor and indigent, for Hashem listens to their calling.


  1. One should always seek brachos from his parents, as their bracha is closer to being fulfilled because it is given with all of their heart and soul, and because of the additional Mitzvah  of Kibbud Av Va’Aim one performs by asking for their bracha.  Chazal teach us that Eisav let out the great and bitter cry of “Barcheini Gam Ani Avi—bless me too my father” in last week’s Parsha--because he realized the great magnitude and power of his father’s blessing.  Each of us who are fortunate to have living parents should endeavor to overtake and go beyond Eisav’s desire as so powerfully recorded in the Parsha.


  1. Finally, something to remember this Shabbos--the Pele Yoetz writes when we say Shabbos Shalom, we should mean what we say--that in the zechus of Shabbos  may you have peace!



Special Note Two: We begin today a series on proper conduct Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, as culled from the Sefer Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita.




A.  Chazal (Brachos 28B) relate that when Rebbi Eliezer was sick, his students came to visit. They asked him to teach them orchos chaim--the proper way in life for which they could be zoche to Olam Haba. He began with Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem--be careful to show the proper respect to your friends!


B.  The Alter of Kelm teaches that when one makes it his common practice to view his friend as greater than him and is careful to honor him--then what follows will be one’s care in giving proper honor to Hashem Himself!


C.  An artisan creates a new product with much dedication and love --and places it outside of his store. A passerby looks at the creation and begins to joke and poke fun at it. How badly and how upset the artisan will feel! When one shames or disgraces another human being--he is likewise mocking Hashem’s handiwork--who was created B’Tzelem Elokim!


D.  Moreover, when one causes pain or anguish to another--it is as if he is bringing pain upon an entire world, for Chazal (Midrash Tanchuma Pekudei 3) teach that every person in this world is an Olam Katan. It is no small wonder, then, that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men teaches (Mishlei 11:12 ): “Baz L’Rei’eihu Chasar Lev--one who disgraces his neighbor is devoid of sense.” Instead, Shlomo HaMelech continues (ibid.), even if one has been hurt by another--”Ish Tevunos Yacharish--one who is silent and does not react to insults--but instead keeps his peace--is a man of understanding.”


E.  Chazal (Avos D’Rebbi Nosson 13) teach that one who greets his friend B’Sever Panim Yafos will be viewed by Hashem as having given his friend all of the matanos tovos in the world--even if he has physically actually not given him anything. Thus--a person who makes it a life goal to show Sever Panim Yafos is giving out all of the matanos tovos in the world to so many people--it is as if he is the richest person in the world! Even within Sever Panim Yafos, however, one may add on to his madreiga by expressing such Simcha in greeting another that the recipient feels the Simcha as well! Sever Panim Yafos B’Simcha--let us work on it!




2 Kislev

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RETZEI! The last Radak in Sefer Shmuel writes that the mageifa described there occurred because K’lal Yisrael did not sufficiently desire the building of the Bais HaMikdash--as we see clearly that when Dovid HaMelech bought the goren (the threshing floor) from Aravnah as the place upon which the Bais HaMikdash would be built--the mageifa suddenly stopped! The Radak penetratingly continues that if the generation of Dovid HaMelech--the generation which had not yet seen a Bais HaMikdash--was held accountable for not properly yearning for it--all the more so should the generations after a Bais HaMikdash existed--yearn and aspire for it! It is for this very reason, continues the Radak, that Chazal instituted language of true longing in the bracha of RetzeiVeHasheiv Es Ha’avodah L’Dvir Beisecha…Vesechezenah Eineinu Beshuvcha L’Tzion B’Rachamim. Thus with this Bracha, Chazal are giving us the opportunity to express and demonstrate what we pine for. Let us make sure that these meaningful and potent words are recited with the feeling that they truly deserve!



HOW TO PASS A SEFER:  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 206; seif katan 18) teaches that one should receive a Sefer with his right hand. We asked a Posek to provide us with further detail on this Halacha. He responded as follows:  “A Sefer should be passed with a right hand, and received with the right hand. This is based on the Sefer Chassidim brought in the Mishna Berurah, the proof being from the drasha that the Torah was given with the right, as the Pasuk says, "Mimino, Aish Das Lamo". Although the Mishna Berurah understands the Sefer Chassidim to be referring to the one who receives a Sefer, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita based on an alternative text of the Sefer Chassidim, teaches that both the one giving the Sefer and the one receiving it, should use their right hands (Kuntrus Ish Iter, p. 26 quoting Koveitz Tzohar, Volume 11, page 68). It would seem from HaRav Kanievsky that it would make no difference whether the person is a lefty or a righty--he should pass and receive the Sefer with his right hand (although from the words of the Mishna Berurah (ibid.), one may have thought otherwise). As far as putting down a Sefer, there is apparently no source for putting it down with one’s left hand, since no drasha is given that would imply any hakpada as to this. If one would want to suggest it is like removing the Tefillin Shel Rosh with one's left hand to indicate a reluctance, or taking three steps back starting with the left foot--one would need a reliable source to make this comparison l’halacha. Nevertheless, one could understand a ba'al madreiga trying to be careful about such things on a personal level….”


Additional Note: The Mishna Berurah (ibid.) also notes that ahl pi kabbalah, one should not stick a knife into a fruit that he is about to make a bracha on--even if he is holding the knife in his proper hand.



A TREASURED REMINDER!  There is a Pasuk that we recite in both Shacharis and Maariv in which three names of Hashem are mentioned consecutively.  Imagine the privilege of saying the name of Hashem three words in a row! When we recite this Pasuk twice daily we should treasure it and the message it conveys (which you will find, when you find the Pasuk!)




Special Note One:  As we encounter the likeness of Eisav in last week’s Parsha, we may be fooled into thinking that he was a gruff, nasty, rough and tumble hooligan--someone, who in short, no civilized Jew would really want to have anything to do with. HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, teaches that this is far from the case. In fact, Yaakov Avinu was worried that if, prior to his petirah, he would have given tochacha to Reuven for what Reuven had done--there was a danger that Reuven would have moved over to Eisav and his teachings! Who really was Eisav--and what did he represent? HaRav Erlanger avers that he was truly an attractive personality--he had a chitzoniyus that was powerful and alluring. On the outside, he was even ‘traditional’--showing respect to his parents and asking how we could take ma’aser from salt and the like. His traditions are indeed followed by his descendents today. Let us take a look at the American way: The U.S. is a democracy, with a court system, with police, with concern about energy and the environment. There is a concern for order and cleanliness, for beauty and for history. However--when one looks deeper into the democracy he will find great corruption (who knows what percentage of the politicians are caught), policies promulgated so that their formulators will be remembered, miscarriages of justice (as we so starkly feel in the Rubashkin case), exceptions to rules when powerful interests are furthered…. In short, there is great chitzoniyus--but the penimiyus is a thin sheet of ice on a late autumn day. Eisav’s approach to Mitzvah performance was--do it on the outside, and for convenience. When Yaakov advised him, for instance, that the bechorus involved responsibility--and that if one would enter the Bais Hamikdash to do the avodah after drinking a revi’is of wine he would be subject to misah--Eisav brashly expressed that this was not for him. Yes, the outward pleasantries of Yiddishkeit--lighting candles, eating latkes and sufganiot, giving and receiving Chanukah gelt--this would be well and fine--but no more. Getting a bit further into the fullness of Chanukah--its depth and meaning to life--for this there was no care, for this there was a distaste. In the Parsha, the Torah is teaching us that there are two ways to observe Yiddishkeit--the easy-going, ‘not 100% is OK’, ‘care-free method of Eisav’--and the temimus of Yaakov--the understanding that that even Reuven’s small deviation was not good, the understanding of the responsibility of the bechor, the understanding of the significance and import of even minutes of Torah study. Yes--the external and loose lifestyle of Eisav is attractive--but the full effort and toil, the responsibility, the temimus of Yaakov--this is what makes the Torah Jew!



Special Note Two: Today is the 51st Yahrzeit of HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl (R’Aharon B’R Shneuer Zalmen), perhaps best known for his unwavering adherence, resolve and tenacity for what he knew to be right--whether it be the primacy of Chinuch Atzmai, learning undistracted in Lakewood, or properly voting in the elections in Israel. The Satmar Rebbe, Z’tl, who did not agree with HaRav Kotler in some of his opinions, was maspid with him with the words: I can testify about him that, like his namesake Aharon HaKohen,--he did not deviate (she’lo shinah) even in the slightest amount (even kekotzo shel yud) from the Torah’s directives”. HaRav Aharon is undisputedly one of the towering figures in rebuilding Jewry in America (and ergo the world) after Churban Europe. We provide below just a sampling of his teachings as a zechus for his beloved neshama--and as a zechus for us all: 


1.  The Ramban writes in Sha’ar HaGemul that there are three Judgments that a person must succeed in. The yearly judgment, the judgment faced upon departure from Olam HaZeh, and a third judgment prior to Techiyas Hameisim.  What is the difference between the second and third judgments?  After all, the person was not alive any more to perform mitzvos or commit aveiros! HaRav Aharon explains that this judgment is most pervasive, because it also takes into account all of the ramifications of a person’s actions  since their demise.  What did you accomplish, what mark did you leave--did you lead others in the Derech Hashem--Torah and Mitzvos--by your sincere action and your exemplary conduct?  If so, all of the actions that succeed you in all future generations of those who learned from you--whether it be children, other relatives, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances or friends (even the impressed person sitting next to you on the bus or plane)--all of this accrues to your merit.  Chas V’Shalom, the opposite is also true.  What we do in our lives is so important--not only for this moment or this year--but for a lifetime, and the generations that succeed them, until the end of days.  Appreciate the true significance, the incredible and everlasting effects, of your daily actions--so that their ramifications benefit you--and the world--literally, to the end of days.


2.  You are an Ish Chesed, a performer of Chesed of the highest caliber.  You come across the cruelest of the cruel--someone, in fact, world renown for his sadism, barbarity, licentiousness, and the sheer indignity he bestows on other human beings--a  shame and disgrace to the human race.  At best, you would have nothing to do with him.  At worst, perhaps you would join forces with those who would  do him harm.  Now, let us see  Avraham Avinu’s attitude and approach to the news that the people of Sodom were about to be handily taken care of, once and for all.  Avraham Avinu’s immediate response was --let us save what we can of these people. No vengeance, no joy, not even personal satisfaction that they and those with them were to be eliminated. Quite to the contrary, HaRav Aharon teaches, Avraham Avinu--who knew what Yiras Shomayim really was --went to the point of pleading that he twice said “Al Yichar”--Hashem do not be upset with what I am about to ask. Far be it from one with true Yiras Shomayim to anger Hashem--but Avraham Avinu knew that he must take it to the absolute limit for them. HaRav Aharon concludes that we are taught here how great our obligation is to assist and daven for Hashem’s children, both for the individual and for the K’lal. Aren’t we the descendants of Avraham Avinu--and don’t those in front of us need our help!


3. A close talmid of HaRav Aharon in Lakewood (now a senior Rav himself) related to us that HaRav Aharon would always emphasize the fact that a person must be a misbonein--one who seriously contemplates his actions.  It is not in vain that the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, when instructing a person on how to acquire a particular character trait, would often teach that one should be misbonein regarding that trait.  If one was truly misbonein, for instance, about ridding himself of anger, then when an anger-inspiring event would arise he would have been trained to first be misbonein before getting angry.  Serious and sincere reflection, then, is the secret to improving all Middos.


4. The following is described in Bimchitzasam, the two-volume work on gedolim of our generation by Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, Shlita:  “HaRav Kotler held that the greatest Chesed that one could do with another was a Chesed Ruchni--spiritual Chesed, whether it be assisting a person to learn, or any other proper spiritual influence.  As Rav Kotler put it, “Torah is life--is there any greater Chesed than giving life to another?!




1 Kislev

“I’M STARVING!”:  A Rav commented:  “After the events at the outset of last week’s Parsha--is this a phrase to be used by a Torah Jew--or by those who follow in the ways of Eisav?!” 



OZER DALIM!  Last week, we recommended having Kavannah at Ozer Dalim for Hashem to help us--as we stand before Him in Shemone Esrei as an Ani BaPesach. A reader pointed out to us another Kavannah on these precious words from the Sha’ar HaKavannos: ahl pi kabbalah, our Kavannah is that we join together with the Shechina which is also ‘impoverished’ with us in Galus--for the Shechinah is now too without a home in this world. We affirm with Emunah Sheleimah that together--the Shechinah and us--will be brought back to our great wealth--and this time--forever!




Special Note One:  From the Sefer Toldos Shimshon by HaRav Shimshon Chayim (B’R Nachman Michoel) Nachmani, Z’tl: In the first bracha of Shemone Esrei, we exclaim that Hashem is HaGadol HaGibor VeHaNorah--these are the shevachim we are allowed to say, even though the shevachim of Hashem are truly limitless (and it would be otherwise disrespectful to mention any--which could be mistakenly taken to mean that that they are limited)--because Moshe Rabbeinu specifically mentions these three shevachim in the Torah itself (Devorim 10:17). The meforshim explain that HaGadol corresponds to Avrohom Avinu and the Middah of Chesed; HaGibor corresponds to Yitzchak Avinu and the Middah of Avodah--Service of Hashem; and HaNorah corresponds to Yaakov Avinu and the Torah.  Chazal teach that because of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash and our exile, Yirmiyahu removed the word Norah from our Tefillos, and Doniel removed the word Gibor--but that the Anshei K’nesses HaGedola re-inserted them. Why did they re-insert them--what made them overturn the decisions of none other than Yirmiyahu and Doniel? As the Middos relate to Hashem Himself, Chazal teach that the fact that K’lal Yisrael is able to survive--a sole sheep among seventy wolves--shows Hashem’s unfathomable Gevurah, and the fact that He is able to allow akum (now Arabs) to prance on the Makom HaMikdash shows us Hashem’s unimaginable Nora’us.  HaRav Nachmani teaches that the re-insertion of these Middos also relate to us--even if our service of Hashem is currently incomplete without Karbanos (HaGibor--Avodah), and even if our Torah study cannot be at its highest level without a Bais HaMikdash which allows us to reach our potential (HaNorah--Torah)--we nevertheless mention these Middos in order to demonstrate that we know what we must do on our end to keep the world going (Avos 1:2)--the Nora’us of Torah and Gevurah in the service of Hashem--which, even for the moment without a Bais HaMikdash--must be done to the best of our ability!



Special Note Two: We once again provide the extremely powerful lesson from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, on the Haftarah that we read last week--the Haftarah of Machar Chodesh:  Yehonasan and Dovid contrived a plan by which Dovid would get a message from Yehonasan as to Shaul’s feelings towards Dovid without actually meeting each other.  What benefit was there in initially avoiding the meeting by which Yehonasan would convey the necessary information to Dovid--after all, it was obviously a great to’eles relating to the saving of Dovid’s life, and, furthermore, as described in the Pesukim, they ended up meeting anyway?!  HaRav Chaim answers that to the extent one can minimize Lashon Hara spoken--even if it is l’toeles (with a legitimate Halachic purpose)--nevertheless, to the extent it could be done in some other way--without directly impugning someone, this must be done (this is, in fact, one of the Seven Requirements For Speaking L’Toeles listed by the Chofetz Chaim).  Yehonasan did not want to utter one unnecessary negative word to Dovid against the king who sought to kill him--and when he met Dovid, he did not do so.  What Dovid learned, he learned from the ‘arrows’ that Yehonasan shot!  The Navi is teaching us the great lesson of how far we must go to keep our tongue from any kind of evil--and even when Lashon Hara l’toeles may be spoken-- it must be presented properly!



Special Note Three:  We look forward to a month of great Yeshuos.  Certainly, great Kochos--huge potential--lies within these upcoming days.  Let us remember that (although the war against the Greeks may have ensued for years hence) the battles for which we celebrate Chanukah culminating in the rededication of the Bais HaMikdash were successfully concluded on the 24th/25th of Kislev--just a few short weeks away.  This, then, means that the actual miracle-filled clashes of the physically weak against the bodily strong, of a few brothers against armored battalions, of the piercing Kol Yaakov against the adroit Yedei Esav as portended by last week’s Parsha, took place on our calendar perhaps today and certainly in the days just ahead.  In last week’s Parsha, we learned how powerful our Tefillos really are and can be in extricating ourselves from truly painful and difficult situations. Learning the lessons from the Parsha is such an important goal and accomplishment for us--especially applying them to our times and our situations in life. If we can take the lesson of the incomparable power of Tefillah--and especially infuse them with special pleas for Yeshua during this month--we may be able to bring ourselves over the top.  Yeshua is definitely not an insurmountable task--especially for a generation so befuddled by the admixture of terrorism, technology and turmoil that surrounds us. A very simple place we can begin is with the words “Ki Lishuasecha Kivinu Kol HaYom” (we await Your salvation every day) in Shemone Esrei.  We have often heard that ‘Yeshuas Hashem KeHeref Ayin--the Yeshua of Hashem can come with the blink of an eye’. When reciting the words of Ki Lishuasecha three times daily--perhaps we can raise our Emunah level by closing our eyes and hoping, picturing and feeling the Yeshua coming in that instant.  With so much pointing in that direction at this perplexing point in world history and this special time of year...as we open our awaiting eyes--we may actually realize that the Yeshua really has come!


Hakhel Note:  On the topic of Tefillah, we had raised the question as to what two items we say in Shacharis are the Retzon Hashem--what Hashem wants of us. The two are: (1) In the second Halleluka (Tehillim 147) Rotzeh Hashem Es Yerei’av Es HaMeyachalim LeChasdo--Hashem wants those who fear Him, those who yearn for His Kindness, and (2) The fifth bracha of Shemone Esrei-- HaRotzeh BisShuva--Who wants repentance. Observation:  We should remember the words of Chazal (Avos 2:4) Asei Retzono Kirtzonecha...treat His will as your own will--so that He will treat your will as if it were His will.  If we can only focus on what Hashem wants this month...perhaps THIS KISLEV we will be zoche to what we all want--new and everlasting Yeshuas Yisrael! All you have to do--is your part!



28 Marcheshvan

FROM A READER: “Regarding a Shul’s lost and found policy based upon yesterday’s teaching in the Bulletin, I have drafted the following form of notice for a Shul’s review, and which can be placed as a sign in the coatroom, or other appropriate location: LOST & FOUND POLICY: IF YOU LEAVE YOUR COAT OR OTHER ARTICLE OF PROPERTY HERE, YOU ARE DOING SO AT YOUR OWN RISK, AND ON THE SPECIFIC CONDITION THAT IF IT IS SWITCHED, YOU EXPLICITLY AGREE IN ADVANCE TO GIVE THE OTHER PARTY PERMISSION TO USE IT. THE HANHALA


Hakhel Note: For your Shul’s convenience, he provided the notice in poster form, available by clicking here.



TWICE IN SEVEN YEARS: Yesterday, we had advised readers that Mezuzahs must be checked within every 3 ½ years, and not twice in seven years in a manner which would delay their checking to the fourth or fifth year. A Rav pointed out that while this is accurate, the phrase “twice in seven years” is actually used by Chazal, and raised the unanswered question as to why Chazal use the phrase of twice in seven years, rather than once in 3 ½ years, which would at first blush appear to be more accurate. We look forward to reader responses!



DAVENING SUGGESTION: The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 98:3) rules that before we begin Shemone Esrei, we should view ourselves Ke’Ani BaPesach--as a poor person who has true needs to be take care of. We may suggest that a good place to focus and feel this in the morning is in Ezras Avoseinu--when reciting the phrase Ozer Dalim--Hashem helps the poor!



DAVENING QUESTION: In our daily Shacharis davening, what two things do we say that Hashem wants (Retzon Hashem)? Hakhel Note: Shouldn’t we want what Hashem wants?



REMEMBERING THE MUMBAI KEDOSHIM: As may be known to you, Shabbos is the fifth Yahrzeit of the Mumbai Kedoshim. We provide their names below, and ask that whatever you do for them as Karbanos on behalf of K’lal Yisrael-whether it is Tehillim, Mishnayos, Tzedaka, etc., please do it separately for each one--as each one had his/her own precious neshama. The names are  R’ Gavriel B’R’ Nachman (the Shaliach), Rivka Bas R’Shimon (his Rebbitzen), R’Aryeh Leibush B’R’ Nachum Efrayim, R’ Ben Zion B’R’ Chaim Zvi, Yocheved Bas R’ Yaakov and Norma (Nechama) Bas Avrohom. May Hashem Avenge their Blood--and may we see the fulfillment of the words of Devorim 32:43 speedily and in our day.


Hakhel Note: At a Hakhel gathering at that time in memory of the Mumbai Kedoshim, HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, pointed out that the kedoshim were killed in the week of Parshas Toldos.  The Parsha, in one Pasuk, remarkably teaches us both the proper and improper reaction to the tragedy.  The Pasuk states “VaYazed Yaakov Nazid--and Yaakov prepared a stew,” and Eisav came in from the field and he was exhausted (Bereishis 25:29).  Chazal teach that Avraham Avinu, the Gadol HaDor, was just taken from this world, and, in the aftermath of his passing, Yaakov Avinu prepared a Seudas Havra’ah to comfort and to give chizuk for his father Yitzchak, understanding that Avraham’s Petira was HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s will, and that it would be up to those remaining to carry on what Avraham Avinu represented and stood for.  Eisav, on the other hand, was exhausted from the gross aveiros that he committed upon hearing of Avraham’s passing, responding to the tragedy with despair and dejection.  This is a great lesson to all of us in these last years of exile.  Our reaction to the tragic events that occur in Galus prior to our ultimate Yeshuah should not, c’v be of a weakening in Emunah, a “there’s nothing you can do” attitude, a ye’ush, a disregard of what happened as if it were not a message from Hashem.  Rather, our conduct should be like that of Yaakov Avinu, strengthening our Emunah and embracing and strengthening the sacred trust that we have in these turbulent times.




Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final p’sak:


A. On Leil Shabbos, when reciting Kriyas Shema Ahl Hamitta, should one recite the Ribono Shel Olam before HaMapil--after all, does it not contain personal requests--asking Hashem to help one not sin, and forgive one for his sins with mercy, rather than through suffering or difficult illnesses? The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Orach Chaim 239) writes that one does not recite, in fact, the Ribono Shel Olam on Leil Shabbos--and brings its source in a footnote as the Sefer Kaf HaChaim (a great Sefardi Posek). We asked a Posek whether he was familiar with this p’sak, and he advised that, other than the Siddur Mekor HaBracha, he knows of no Nusach Ashkenaz posek or Siddur which rules that the Ribono Shel Olam should not be recited. In fact, he noted that a Sefardi Posek advised him that he believes even some Sefardim recite the first half of the Ribono Shel Olam before arriving at the request portion of the Tefillah.


B. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 125 women.   This winter, Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are on Hilchos Muktzah. Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 37 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


38. Is one permitted to use a salt shaker that has some rice in it in order to absorb the moisture?


According to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Zt’l, it is prohibited because the cap of the salt shaker is being used as a vessel to help separate the salt from the rice. However, according to HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l, and other Poskim, one is permitted to use the salt shaker. In their opinion, the cap is merely used to dispense a small amount of salt at a time and one has no intention of separating the salt from the rice.


39. Is one permitted to pour leftover soup that contains both liquid and solid down the kitchen sink drain?


Yes, for there is no prohibition of borer, as at the point of the drain, one is separating waste from waste, and not pesoles from ochel.


40. If a fly fell into a liquid, how can one remove the fly?


Due to the fact that the fly is considered pesoles, the rules of borer apply and one is required to satisfy all three conditions in order to remove the fly. Accordingly, the fly can either be removed by pouring out some of the liquid with the fly, or by taking a spoonful of liquid with the fly at the same time.


41. If one has a yogurt with some liquid sitting on top of the actual yogurt, may he drain off the liquid?


The rules of borer apply, and one must satisfy all three conditions. Accordingly, one can spoon out the liquid and leave some liquid where it meets the yogurt, or spoon out all the liquid with some of the yogurt at the same time.



Special Note Two:  A few questions on the Parsha, and the answers of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published in the Divrei Siach, by Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshtaff, Shlita, and the Sefer Ta’ama D’Kra:


QUESTION:  A question we had raised: At the end of the Parsha, we learn that Eisav 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)?!

ANSWER: We could not have learned it out from the marriage such as Yitzchak and Rivka because they had no sins to be forgiven--even if they had sinned in some small way, they would have done Teshuvah immediately. Accordingly, we must learn it out from someone who clearly had sins to be forgiven!


QUESTION: At the outset of the Parsha we learn that Eisav asked Yaakov for the ‘very red stuff’. The Pasuk then records that Yaakov gave him bread. Why did he give him bread if he did not ask for it?

ANSWER: There is a machlokes in the Gemara (Brachos 38B) as to what bracha to make on cooked vegetables. Although the Halacha is that one makes a Borei Pri Ha’adama--Yaakov Avinu did not want to get himself or Eisav involved in a Machlokes--so he gave him bread to avoid the shailah!


QUESTION: How could Yitzchak have eaten from the shechitah of Eisav if he was a mumar?

ANSWER: Chazal (Eruvin 69A) teach that if one is embarrassed to do an aveirah in public in front of someone, then he is not a mumar--and here Eisav was embarrassed to do aveiros before Yitzchak.


QUESTION: What do we learn from the fact that Yitzchak Avinu gave the places where he dug wells the same names as his father, Avraham Avinu had given them?

ANSWER: Rabbeinu Bachya learns that it was Kibud Av to do so. Based upon this, HaRav Kanievsky issued the following ruling: A man was killed in the sho’ah who had a built a Shul in his city before the war and named it Keser Torah. After the sho’ah, his son also built a Shul in commemoration of the Shul his father had built, and was unsure whether to name it after his father--or to give it the name Keser Torah. HaRav Kanievsky ruled that he should name it Keser Torah--the name his father had given the Shul before the war.


QUESTION: What do we learn from the Pasuk (Bereishis 46:7), recording that Vayishma Yaakov El Aviv V’El Imo --and Yaakov listened to his father and to his mother, and went to Padan Aram?

ANSWER:  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 Kibud Av, and a second one of Kibud 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! 


Hakhel Note One: When one brings a glass of tea to each of his parents, or visits them, or separately quotes them--his Mitzvos abound!


Hakhel Note Two: A benefit in Benstching, which shouldn’t be minimized, is the opportunity to be mekayaim the mitzvah of Kibud Av V’Aim, in the section where we ask that our parents be blessed!



Special Note Three:  Several lessons from this week’s Parsha:


A.  The Pasuk teaches:  Vayisrotsitsu HaBanim Bekirba--the boys agitated within her.”  Rivka, as a result, exclaimed--”If this is the case, why am I?”, and she then went to inquire of Shem as to what was really taking place.  HaRav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, Z’tl, the Rav of Brisk, learned a tremendous lesson from these words which he taught should be applied by everyone in their daily life.  Rivka realized that there was something going on that was not right --and she wanted no part of it--even if this meant not having the good out of it either.  Shem essentially advised her that it would not be her choice--for Eisav was necessary for Yaakov’s existence in this world.  However, her original thought--that fostering evil did not pay even if good was fostered along with it--was correct.  Similarly, HaRav Soloveitchik teaches, Chizkiyahu HaMelech did not want to have children because he realized that resha’im of the caliber of Menashe would be among his progeny.  He felt this way--even though the great Tzaddikim Yoshiyahu and Tzidkiyahu would be numbered among his descendants as well.  Thus, even though much good would have come out of his children, it would not have been justified because of the evil that would have also resulted.  Yeshaya HaNavi (as Shem did with Rivka earlier) had to tell Chizkiyahu not to be involved in Hashem’s cheshbonos--and to do his part and have children if he could.  The great daily lesson that HaRav Soloveitchik derives is that any action to be taken or word to be spoken which will have some clearly bad or negative ramification or result can and will never be outweighed by the good that will also be produced.  We cannot put both the good and the bad on the scale, and use our best judgment to weigh it--instead, we are duty bound not to perform the act at all--and even though the good will not happen, neither will the evil--and that is your first duty, obligation, and purpose.  What a powerful lesson!


B. When Rivka inquired of Shem as to just exactly what was happening within her, Shem concluded with the words “VeRav Ya’avod Tzair--the older one will serve the younger one.”  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, asks when the older one ever did indeed serve the younger one--hasn’t Eisav always been on the ruling end over us? HaRav Lopian brilliantly answers that this is not at all the case.  Eisav has been serving us all along.  A king has different kinds of servants--butlers, chefs, charges d’affaires--and even a palace doctor.  If we were to act properly, Eisav would take on the more traditional roles in the palace.  Now, however, because we need to improve--Eisav is acting as the palace doctor--serving us with r’l sometimes painful treatments.  The time will come, however, when he will serve us in a more common, expected and pleasant way--may it come through our Teshuva Sheleima (remember--Teshuva BeChol Yom!)--speedily and in our days!


C.   Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, makes the following great observation:  ”Of all parts of Eisav’s body, why did Yaakov grab hold of Eisav’s heel?  We can suggest that it is to teach us a secret of greatness--hold on to those things that others may be stepping on!”


D.  HaRav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, Shlita, Rosh HaYeshiva in Lakewood , teaches the importance of the description of Yaakov Avinu in the Torah as a “Yoshev Ohalim--one who dwells in tents” (Bereishis 25:27).  After all, the Torah’s description of Yaakov focuses on his difficulties with Lavan, with Eisav, and with Mitzrayim, his encounters and his travels, and does not appear to spend even one precious word describing his Torah studies.  How could this be so?  In fact, however, Yaakov was the true “dweller of tents” because he took his Torah teachings wherever he went and in every situation that he encountered.  This is why the Torah does not state that he dwelled in a “house”--but in a “tent”--through the many sojourns of Galus.  A tent of Torah is not transient--it is impregnable and unconquerable by Eisav--and that is how it will remain until our final Geulah.


E.  The Torah’s first description of Eisav’s evil relates to the way he spoke and ate.  Eisav tells Yaakov “HaLiteni Na--pour into me now some of that very red stuff…” thus, it appears, that the early warning sign of Eisav’s evil related to his mouth--what came out of it and how he put things into it.  Below are some additional lessons, based upon the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 167 and 170:


1. One should not stare at someone or look at his food while he is eating.


2. One should not drink an entire cup in one gulp. Hakhel Note:  We may add that it has become a matter of custom for people to drink from all size water and juice bottles, both at the table and in public. Even if this is society’s norm, it may be that society around us does not effuse the level of Kedusha that we do into our daily needs such as eating.  Would you drink from a bottle (any size) in front of a King?


3. One should not bite from a piece of bread and put the remaining bread on the table.


4. If you are a visitor, wait to be served; do not ask to be served.


5. The older person at the table should be served first, or take his portion first.


F.  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, teaches that not all deceit is to be frowned upon.  In his incisive and insightful way, he teaches:  “You should deceive your mate all his or her life and make them think that they got the very best thing in the world!”


G. The Peleh Yoetz (Chapter on Brachos) brings the Midrash that “all of the good and the power that Eisav’s descendants possess come from the importance he attached to his father’s brachos when he cried out bitterly and said ‘Borcheini Gam Ani Avi.’“ Accordingly, the Peleh Yoetz writes, one should go out of his way to receive brachos from his parents because, besides the fact that these brachos are closer to being fulfilled because they come from the heart, one also fulfills the mitzvah of Kibud Av V’aim for which he will be rewarded.  We should treasure and seek these irreplaceable brachos.


H.  We provide the splendidly meaningful words of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, as he comments on the final Pesukim of the Parsha in his classic Sefer Love Your Neighbor:

VaYikrah Yitzchak El Yaakov VaYivarech Oso, VaYitzavehu VaYomer Lo, Lo Tikach Isha M’Binos Canaan (Bereishis 28:1)--and Yitzchak called to Yaakov and blessed him, and [then] commanded him saying, ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan .’”


“The Chofetz Chaim used to say that we can learn from Yitzchak the most effective way of admonishing others.  Before Yitzchak warned his son Yaakov what not to do, he blessed him.  Often, you will not be able to correct someone by shouting at him.  (Even if you are successful, you will have hurt the other person’s feelings, and will have caused ill will.)  But if you show a person first that you truly care about his welfare, he will much more readily listen to your advice or admonition (HaChofetz Chaim, Volume 3, p. 1114).”


Oh, what a great lesson this is if we can apply it to the way we speak to our immediate family members, friends, and colleagues at work!



 Special Note Four:  Do you like potato chips?  Even if you do, you certainly would not like that to be your first name or even your nickname. Yet, Eisav was known by what he ate--why?!  Rabbi Mordechai Hammer, Shlita explains that when we take a closer look at his sale of the Bechor-Right for a humble meal, we realize that this was not an act of absolute desperation upon which Yaakov was c’v taking full advantage.  As we see from the Pasuk, this was a thought-through decision of ‘Lama Zeh Li Bechora--man’s end is death and so the pleasures of Olam Hazeh shall be my focus and that of my descendants’.  To be sure, after Eisav ate and for the ensuing 45 years until it became an issue again at the time of the Birchas Yitzchak, we find no attempt whatsoever by Eisav to reverse the transaction, based upon fraud, duress or the like.  No, this was an outright sale--with Eisav feeling that he was getting his full money’s worth (!) with the food he had eaten.  The Torah itself ‘uncharacteristically’ testifies that this was a despicable act-- a bizayon --with the words VaYivez Esav Es HaBechora.  By selling the Bechorus for ‘ Edom ’--he demonstrated what was important to him--and “Ish Lefi Mehallelo---a man is defined by where he puts his priorities”.  That being said, a person must think about, must consider, what he is exchanging Torah or Mitzvos for when he takes away time from learning or from performing a Mitzvah that he could have otherwise performed.  If it is for ‘toys’, ‘candy’, or the like, then he is showing that he considers them to be more important---and if that is the case--who knows what he should be called!  We must demonstrate our proper value of the right things--by being careful and taking steps not to waste our most precious personal commodity--time--with the Edom-like enticements of this world.  Why be called ‘potato chip’--when you can be called a Ben Torah!



Special Note Five:  To put things in their proper perspective, Sunday, Rosh Chodesh, is the fortieth day from Hoshana Rabbah (i.e., the same distance traveled between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur).  It will also be a full two months since Rosh Hashana.  To reiterate our point of yesterday, It is the time for us to evaluate and re-evaluate our kabalos, goals and accomplishments thus far--and make the great part of the year ahead of us--just that--great!




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