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6 Kislev

QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE :  In last week’s Parasha, after Yosef is born, Yaakov asks Lavan permission to leave and make his way home (Bereishis 30:25).  We then learn of Yaakov’s miracle-filled ‘deal’ with Lavan for payment. Yet, it is not until many Pesukim later (ibid. 31:13) that a Malach appears to Yaakov and instructs him to leave and return to Eretz Yisroel.  How could/why would Yaakov have initiated his plans for departure and return to Eretz Yisroel without instructions from his mother (who said she would call for him when it was safe--see ibid. 27:45), or without having received instruction from Hashem--which apparently only happened much later?!



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 31:13). 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. The following is excerpted from Praying with Fire II by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita: 


1.  Asking for personal requests on Shabbos is prohibited.  Some say that this includes even spiritual requests, while others permit this.  In either case, one may not pray for healing unless the persons life is in imminent danger. Instead, one may think of a sick person’s name when saying “V’Rofei Cholim - [He] heals the sick,in the Atta Giborportion of the Shabbos Shemoneh Esrei, as one is allowed to think about personal needs on Shabbos.


2.  Despite the fact that in general Tehillim may be recited on Shabbos, it should not be recited in public for a sick person unless he is in imminent danger.  One may say Tehillim privately for a sick person who is not in danger--since it is not obvious to others that the Tehillim is being said for a sick person.


3. It is permitted, and recommended, at the time of Shabbos candle-lighting for a woman to pray for her children to be successful in Torah learning.  The Zohar adds that lighting Shabbos candles ‘with gladness of heart’ also brings peace to the Jewish people and long life to the members of the woman’s family. 


B.  We provide below several Halachos taught by Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl:


1.  If a crockpot plug gets unplugged on Shabbos, according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, it is an issur D’Oraysa to replug it in.  One could not ask his or another child to re-plug it in, for one would violate an issur D’Oraysa for asking them to do so.  Asking an akum to perform an issur D’Oraysa in this situation would not be permissible either.  Although one may be able to find a heter of moving the contents of the crockpot to a neighbor’s house where there is an eiruv between the homes, other factors come into play, such as the degree that the cholent is cooked, and whether or not it is still hot, warm or completely cooled off (and whether you are an Ashkenazi or a Sefardi).  By not eating cholent on Shabbos, one might think that he is not showing proper Kavod Shabbos.  In fact, however, Rabbi Pearl explained that “the biggest Kavod Shabbos is Shemiras Shabbos”--not eating cholent when the crockpot has been unplugged is Kavod Shabbos! [Note:  If the crockpot became unplugged during bein hashemashos--i.e., up to 30/40 minutes after shekiyah, one could ask an akum to replug the crockpot, because at that time it is an issur D’Rabbanan, and a shvus d’shvus b’makom mitzvah would be permissible.]


2.  Although some Poskim rule that a Styrofoam cup should be treated as a kli rishon, HaRav Moshe Feinstein and the Chazon Ish both ruled in a similar context that a thermos is a kli sheini, as a thermos is never on the fire, so that it cannot be deemed a kli rishon.  The same would be true of Styrofoam cups, which of course are never placed directly on the fire.  


3.  One is allowed to put ice cubes in hot tea, for adding water to a kli sheni is permissible. 


4.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein ruled that one may place ketchup or coleslaw on or next to hot cholent. 


5.  There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether one needs to wipe water droplets out a cup in order to pour new hot water into the cup.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl and HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, both held that one must do so, whereas HaRav Moshe Feinstein ruled that it is a chumra to do so. 



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


A.  At the outset of the Parasha, 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 Avrohom 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 Avrohom Avinu who was known to all!


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 has received. We should appreciate the lesson of how important it is to relate Besoros Tovos to others, and additionally, to make people feel good!


C.  There is a notable question many have asked relating to the Parasha--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 Avrohom 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 Avrohom…observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My teachings” (Bereishis 26:5).  The Pasuk seems to indicate that it was Avrohom 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!  With this, we 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 Yeshiva, we must appreciate this and conversely instill within ourselves a great passion for entering a Yeshiva at each and every opportunity that we can!


D.  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--after all, was he not listening to his mother by not coming home until she called for him?  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!


E.  Rashi (Bereishis 28:17) explains that 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?!” HaRav Kanievsky teaches that we 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. 


F.  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!?  On this point, 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!


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


H. The name Yissocher is not pronounced Yissoscher. The Chazon Ish told the Ba’al Kriyah in his Shul, however, to lein it Yissoscher only in Parashas Vayeitzei. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that a possible reason for this could be that Yissoscher gave a Shin in his name to his son Yov--so that his name would be changed to Yashuv, a more appropriate for him (as Yov was the name of an Avodah Zara at the time). Once he had given over the Shin after the events of this week’s Parasha, we refer to him as Yissocher--without the Shin.


I. We find that Yissocher is born before Zevulun. Zevulun’s great zechus is in supporting Torah--but Torah has to 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 remember that Torah comes first, for from Torah comes everything else. It may be the role of some to support Torah, and the role of yet others to be Gomel Chesed--but Torah Jews have the study of Torah as the priority!


J. Upon reaching Yaakov, 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 you deceived me. The lesson is a great one--when one tricks or deceives another--it is so severe that it is as if he has stolen him himself!


K. 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--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 important--would he 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--how often does he ask Shailos on the Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline and to others? If giving Tzedakah is important, would 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!


L.  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)


M.  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), then the money becomes sanctified and elevated as an object of Kiddush Hashem.


If we treat our assets and our wealth in the capacity of 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:  If a person works hard to provide good service, he expects the appreciation of a timely payment besides a sincere expression of thanks.  Many who are in a service business (doctors, lawyers, accountants, consultants, craftsmen, plumbers, electricians, etc.) are the first to pay their bills to other service providers--because they know how sorely and even hurt they feel when they are not paid on time.  As we look at Lavan’s foolish and rotten conduct, in withholding from Yaakov whatever he could for as long as he could, we are reminded of the concluding words of the Rambam in Hilchos Sechirus (the Laws of Hired Workers).  There, the Rambam refers to Yaakov as ‘Yaakov ‘Hatzaddik’, and states that Yaakov worked Bechol Kocho--with all of his strength for Lavan.  Though the wicked Lavan tried to avoid payment, Hashem Himself acknowledged Yaakov’s steadfast and honest efforts and Yaakov was rewarded even in this world with “Vayifrotz HaIsh Me’od Me’od--he became very wealthy.  By bringing this as the concluding Halacha here, we can suggest that the Rambam intends to impart a great lesson to all workers.  Dedication and integrity in the workplace should be rewarded by our employers or those who hire us.  If we act as we are supposed to, then we are Tzaddikim--and we should be dealt with accordingly by those who hired us.  Even if, however, we are treated more like Lavan treated Yaakov, then Hashem Himself will get involved in a way that He deems fit and either despoil the Lavan we are dealing with for our benefit--or take care of us in some other very special way---as the Pasuk unusually emphasizes--Me’od Me’od--his situation very much improved.  Let us take the lesson of Yaakov HaTzaddik--and may we not only give Nachas to Hashem and reap the rewards for our conduct in the Next World, but touch the Me’od Me’od very much so in this world as well!



Special Note Five:  As we encounter two Chasunahs in this week’s Parasha, 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]. Hakhel Note: Each person must consult his own Rav or Posek.



Special Note Six:  Another of the many foundations for life that we learned in this week’s Parasha, was Leah Imeinu’s exuberant expression when she gave birth to Yehuda:  HaPa’am Odeh Es Hashem--this time I will thank and express my appreciative submission to Hashem!  We present briefly below three important explanations of these words, and would most welcome your explanations as well:


1.  Leah realized that the fourth son granted to her was beyond her allotment--after all there were 12 sons to be born to four wives--making each wife the mother of three boys.  With this appreciation--that she had received more than her allotment--she gained a fully new appreciation and picture as well. Even the first son, the second son and the third son were undeserved and a great gift from Hashem.  Were her meager deeds indeed worthy of a first miracle, a second miracle, or a third miracle?  Leah thus asked herself--HaPa’am Odeh Es Hashem--should it be only this time that I thank Hashem?!  Proper thanks must always be expressed for the blessings that we have--even if they are repeated.  Because we were able to see, hear, eat or think yesterday--does it mean that the miracle necessarily must recur today?  HaPa’am teaches us that the gifts should not be viewed on a ‘wholesale’ basis--but rather should be scrutinized and appreciated in an individualized way.  (based upon the teachings of HaRav Shmuel Ehrenfeld--the Mattersdorfer Rav, Z’t’l)


2. In many of our Tefillos during the day, we thank Hashem for something--and then ask for more (Modim, and the HaRachamans after bentsching, for example).  This of course demonstrates our sincere belief that Hashem is the continuous Source of Blessing at all times.  However, sometimes we should express our thanks without any additional ‘ulterior motive’--of more blessing, more benefits or more rewards.  Pure thanks and thanks alone--unaccompanied by anything else-- over an event, occurrence, or yeshua is a pure appreciation of “Ki Mimcha Hakol--You have provided me with this blessing and I express my sincere and heartfelt thanks!  (based upon the teachings of HaRav Meir Schuck--the Temesvarer Rav, Z’tl)


3.  Leah did not want to let this great moment of appreciation and joy pass by as a moment in history.  She wanted it very much to be a part of her for the rest of her life--and she did so by making that her son’s name.  When she called out her son’s name--for supper, for an errand, to go to bed, she would remember that Hashem is to be thanked for His blessings.  There is really a dual message here.  Firstly, we should find reference points or milestones within our day to help guide us so that our days are properly and meaningfully directed--and so that we do not get lost in insignificant trivialities and diversionary trifles through which a day’s events can be detoured and minimized.  Secondly, we should appreciate the significance of names (perhaps the meanings of our friends/families names that we call upon can be part of our daily milestones, as we call their names).  Indeed, Chazal teach that it is wrong to be “mechane shem”--to call someone by other than his name, even if it is not necessarily condescending.  A person’s name identifies him in this world and the Next World--and we should very much express it as such. 


We recall that the lesson to us of Leah’s naming of Yehuda is so important, so crucial, so pivotal--that the appellation “Jew” has stayed by our side world-over for 2,000 years.  Through our proper appreciation and accomplishments from the lessons of this title--may we deservingly go back to the title of B’nai Yisroel--speedily and in our day!




5 Kislev

QUESTION OF THE DAY: The monumental event of Yaakov Avinu studying at the Bais Midrash of Shem and Bais Midrash of Ever for fourteen years is not mentioned in the Torah Sh’Bichsav at all. Why?


Additional Note:  The Midrash Rabba (68:11) teaches that although Yaakov slept at the Makom HaMikdash at the outset of the Parasha, he did not sleep during those 14 years in the Beis Midrash of Ever.  What was he doing all night?  There are two opinions.  According to Rebbi Yehoshua Ben Levi, he recited the 15 Shir HaMa’alos in Sefer Tehillim.  Rebbi Yehoshua Bar Nachma teaches that he recited all of Sefer Tehillim.  We also, of course, gain a better appreciation of the great d’veikus one can attain-- through the proper recitation of Tehillim in general, and of the 15 Shir HaMa’alos in particular!




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!



FROM A READER:  It is brought that Malki-Tzedek (Shem ben Noach) lost the Kehunah, when he blessed Avrom before the Borei Olam. (Bereishis 14: 18-20)

Something to keep in mind when making a L’ Chaim it is proper to first make a bracha, be to’eim --and then wish L’Chaim! 




Special Note One:  We conclude our series on Shemiras Einayim from the wonderful Sefer: V’Haeir Eineinu: Enlighten Our Eyes, A Practical Guide to Shemiras Einayim. To obtain the entire Sefer, please call Rabbi Sonenzon: 732-363-8033.




A. The Chida writes (Nachal Kedumin, Bereishis) that if Yidden look at forbidden sights, then the forces of Eisav and Yishmael gather strength. But if we take extra care to protect our sense of sight, then Eisav and Yishmael will be wiped out and Moshiach will come.


B. Sin entices with false fantasies, but with one’s awareness that it is truly a deception--a custom nisayon made for one to overcome and thereby earn vast reward for eternity-- the  infatuation, like a helium filled balloon, will soon deflate and drop down to the ground.


C. Though we hope to improve ourselves forever, it is more effective to set short term goals. Start with taking on a commitment for a day or two. If no hitches appear on the horizon, perhaps increase your goal to a week. Eventually, set month-long goals but not more than that. These ‘little’ victories are essential--especially in this area which can be so addictive. If we accustom ourselves to overcoming small temptations then, bit-by-bit, these little victories will lead to bigger ones. Good habit, rather than logic, will carry the day.


D. You might ask: “How can I unhook myself from something that has long been part of me?” Rabbeinu Yonah (Yesod HaTeshuvah) suggests imagining yourself as a newborn--with no credits and no debits. Picture a blank piece of crisp, clean paper, or a mystery gift waiting to be unwrapped, or a rose unfurling its velvety petals in the morning dew. You’re starting out today as a traveler on a brand new path--without any baggage. Every drop of Shmiras Einayim, then, is eye therapy--self administered, readily available, and wonderfully restorative. Every time we choose purity over impurity we are thereby rectifying our past.


E. Come let us picture a scene unfolding: a threadbare beggar crawls out of his hovel and finds himself standing face-to-face with the king. His majesty graciously hands the fellow $1 million in cash. But, shockingly, no glimmer of thankfulness lights up the haggard face, no words of praise gush from his lips as the ingrate takes the fortune from the monarch’s hand without a smile, even begrudging the effort spent carrying it home. “What am I supposed to do with all of these mounds of green papers?” he wonders.


Sorry, but we do not recognize ourselves here? Don’t we realize that every time we are accosted with impurity, it is actually a golden opportunity for growth? We could be turning those aching temptations from stumbling blocks into stepping stones. In the Next World, our whole status and reward is dependent on our struggles in this world. Nisyonos are a gift and the recipient is none other than ourselves.


F. The Ben Ish Chai writes (Od Yosef Chai, Va’eschanan, shana 1) that a major source of pleasure in this world is eating and drinking. In the Next World, we first enter the lower Gan Eden where our souls enjoy delightful fragrances, after which we ascend to the higher Gan Eden to partake of the marvels of seeing the Divine Glory. This progression is demonstrated by the structure of the face. Lowest is the mouth, above that the nose, and topmost are the eyes; therein lies a message: At all costs preserve your spiritual eyesight. It’s every Yid’s fondest and deepest hope to one day bask in the ecstasy of the profound luminescence of the Shechinah--Lachazos BeNo’am Hashem (Tehillim 27:4). This is the highest dimension of experience.


Though the light of the Shechinah is infinitely more powerful than any blazing sun, this will pose no problem for the eyes that are spiritually healthy and clean. For all eternity, their owner will delight in the wonder of glazing at the phenomenal luminescence of Hashem’s Presence!



Special Note Two: Special Note Four: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.




Some people prefer buying a small Sefer Torah since they often travel and like to take their Sefer Torah with them. Generally speaking, is there a preferred size for a Sefer Torah?




Chazal give us a number of guidelines concerning the size of Sifrei Torah: (We will use R’ Chaim Naeh’s measurement since it is standard in this context).

1.      According to some, the ideal height of a Sefer Torah is one amah, (48 cm. / 18.9 in.) to reflect the height of the Luchos. All opinions agree that this is only a hiddur. Therefore, a Sefer Torah may be any other height as well if there is a need.

2.      The bottom margin is four etzbaos (8 cm. / 3.15 in.).

3.      The top margin is three etzbaos (6 cm. / 2.36 in.).

4.      The total height of the top and bottom margins should not be greater than the total height of the writing area. So, if the top and bottom margins combined come to 14 centimeters, and the height of the writing needs to be greater than that (say, 15 centimeters), then, by definition, a Sefer Torah may not be smaller than 29 centimeters. Indeed, someone who wants to write a truly mehudar Sefer Torah should maintain these dimensions, and make it no smaller than this. One may, however, reduce or enlarge the size of the writing as long as he leaves the margin size intact.

5.      The margin between columns is two etzbaos (4 cm. / 1.57 in.).



Is there a shittah (halachic opinion) upon which those who write these smaller Sifrei Torah rely?




There are two possible leniencies upon which they may be relying:


1.      There is one opinion which asserts that when Chazal established those measurements for margins, they did so only for Sifrei Torah which are one amah tall. If, however, one would make a smaller Sefer Torah, all dimensions would be reduced proportionally.


2.      The margins of many of the small Sifrei Torah conform at least to the margin requirements of Chumashim or Nevi’im.


In the times of Chazal, aside from writing Sifrei Torah, they would also write each of the five Chumashim as separate scrolls to use for study. They would also write Nach in scrolls from which they read the haftarah in shul – as many communities do today – and from which they studied.


Guidelines were given by Chazal regarding the sizes (but not the height) of these scrolls as well:

a)      The lower margin is three etzbaos (thumb widths).

b)      The upper margin is two etzbaos.

c)      The margins between columns is one etzba.


There is significant reason to believe that a Sefer Torah written with the margins of Chumashim or Nevi’im is still considered kosher l’chatchilah.


We can conclude as follows:


If there is a pressing need, you may make the margins as small as Chumashim or Nevi’im. This allows for a Sefer Torah as small as 16 cm. in height! Although Sifrei Torah with margins smaller than that are certainly not pasul and may be used for Kerias HaTorah, an ordinance of Chazal has been neglected.




4 Kislev

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!




Special Note One:  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita teaches that we do not realize how far-reaching are the consequences of inappropriate behavior “Bein Odom L’Chaveiro”--between man and his fellow man.  Somehow, we associate the Churban Bais HaMikdash, and the failure of the Mashiach to come, with our inadequacies in our direct relationship with Hashem.  However, at the end of the day, HaRav Salomon points out, it was Sinas Chinam--needless ill-will--that caused and continues to maintain, our current state of galus and churban-exile and destruction. This teaching, the Mashgiach demonstrates, is made in this week’s Parasha, when Leah calls her first-born son “Reuven”.  Rashi there explains that Leah, by this name, meant to indicate how one Jew is supposed to act to his brother.  “See,” Leah said, “the difference between Eisav who wanted to kill his brother even though Eisav had actually sold him the birthright-- and my firstborn son Reuven, who actually saved Yosef from the deadly pit, even though Yosef would take away his primogeniture (through the tribes of Ephraim and Menasha) in his place. What must distinguish each and every one of us is an ability to excel in care and concern for others--even in the face of hurt and harm that those very people may have caused you.  To forgive, forgo and forget is, in actuality, HaRav Salomon teaches, “the essence of being a Jew.”



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


1.  When reciting the pasuk Posei’ach 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 Three:  We continue our series on Shemiras Einayim from the wonderful Sefer: V’Haeir Eineinu: Enlighten Our Eyes, A Practical Guide to Shemiras Einayim. To obtain the entire Sefer, please call Rabbi Sonenzon: 732-363-8033.




A. The Vilna Ga’on comments that the Pasuk (Bereishis 38:21): “Ayei Hakedeisha He Va’Einayim” can be interpreted as, “All of a person’s holiness depends on his eyes”.


The Ra’avad condenses Shmiras Einayim into a few sentences:

A person’s first line of defense against sin is his Shmiras Einayim.

If his eyes are guarded then his mind is guarded.

If his eyes and mind are guarded, then he is guarded completely.


B. As for remembering one’s learning, pure eyes will help here too, because Shmiras Einayim has the propensity to protect our memory, says Rav Shimon Shkop, Z’tl. Yes, pure eyes stand guard over the Torah that one has learned. This is hinted at the last Parasha of Shema by the proximity of the words Velo Sasuru--do not stray after your eyes, to the words LeMa’an Tizkeru--so that you may remember. The choice is ours.


C. Why did Hashem engineer Yosef’s coming down to Mitzrayim ahead of the rest of his family? Answers the Zohar: “So he would be a Merkava (chariot) to the Shechina deep in the ervas ha’aretz and somewhat neutralize the filth of the land’s populace. His 22 year exile became a veritable textbook when our nation was forged in the iron crucible of Egyptian slavery. Every Jew had the ability to stay pure, strengthened by the Kedusha of that tzaddik yesod olam who triumphed over all that Mitzrayim could throw at him.


D. Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita, heard from the Taharas HaKodesh that simply turning one’s eyes away from the unsuitable, welcomes in the Shechina and the person’s essence now draws closer to Hashem, so to speak. Why not utilize this golden moment of eiz ratzon and whisper a Tefillah for all of the things one wants in life? This is hinted at the words, “The help of Hashem comes swiftly like the blink of an eye.”


E. We Yidden know that this world is not a playground. Whatever pleasure we renounce in pursuit of purity will one day be handed down to us on a plate in a permitted way. Hashem makes sure that those who do not try to grab will not lose out; for He has plenty of permitted ways to deliver true pleasures to us. On the other hand, those who pursue forbidden pleasures hardly ever get to really enjoy them and, afterwards, are plagued with remorse.


Hashem’s plans will come to be, regardless of all our little strategies. If a person sets out to indulge his [forbidden] animalistic fancies, the sun may shine brightly at first. But, as he proceeds along the glittering, wide-open spaces of ‘ Ruin Road ’, he will encounter a lot more difficulties than he had bargained for in the form of obstacles, disruptions, and disappointments.


How incredible to read the Vilna Gaon’s testimony (Even Sheleimah, Chapter 2, Part 10): “All the pleasures which the morally corrupt may obtain with effort and exertion through forbidden avenues, are granted to the wholesome, clean-living individuals in a permitted manner without any effort on their part.” This realization that we lose nothing--and have so much to gain--by choosing to keep our eyes clean and pure is truly a most valuable key.”




3 Kislev



1. We provide by clicking here the words of Rav Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, of Yerushalayim on how we should relate to the recent, horrendous tragedy in Har Nof.


2. We provide by the following link the words of Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, spoken last week after the Har Nof Massacre: http://tinyurl.com/onkxvr9



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 attacks 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. 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 Parasha 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 once again provide several important reminders from the Sefer Pele Yoetz relating to the giving and receiving of brachos from other people:


A.  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!”


B.  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.


C.  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.”


D.  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!”


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


F.  One should especially desire and seek brachos from Talmidei Chachomim and Tzaddikim, because their bracha is ‘kerova lehiskayeim--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!



Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Shemiras Einayim from the wonderful Sefer: V’Haeir Eineinu: Enlighten Our Eyes, A Practical Guide to Shemiras Einayim. To obtain the entire Sefer, please call Rabbi Sonenzon: 732-363-8033.


Part 2


A. The unfortunate laxity prevalent today is, perhaps, due to widespread ignorance of the relevant halachos. The Pasuk warns about guarding one’s eyes in the Shema: “Velo Sasuru Acharei Levavechem VeAcharei Eineichem--do not stray after your heart and after your eyes.” This informs us that it is a full-fledged prohibition from the Torah for a man to gaze at women. Shmiras Einayim is not merely a chumra undertaken by previous generations, nor are its struggles intended only for the machmirim. It was presented to each and every member of Hashem’s holy nation.


B. We get a head-start by reminding ourselves that, moment by moment, our Shmiras Einayim is bringing immense satisfaction to Hashem. The good news is the real uphill struggle is only for the first bit. The Mesilas Yesharim assures us that Kedusha starts off as effort, but then it comes to us as a reward. At first it’s work--following that, it is handed to us as a gift. Only the first struggles are so seriously tough.


C. The Chinuch writes that if you shut your eyes not to see evil once, it will make it easier to do so many more times. If we restrain ourselves now, we will rejoice in our lot forever and ever. The Yetzer Hara towers like a mountain. But as soon as we kick some of the old habits, the road ahead is surprisingly smoother, and all it takes is a slight but continuous input to keep us in the driver’s seat.


D. A major hazard for Shmiras Einayim is our well-entrenched habit of giving in to curiosity. What started off as “I just want to see what’s doing” could suddenly turn into an attraction. This new torment is our own doing because we did not recognize the thin edge of the wedge. The more we look around, the more our curiosity will be piqued. Why open new battlefields?


E. It would serve our interest, therefore, to pre-empt the snags and potholes. If, before heading out we could give ourselves a mini-mental briefing, it would run something like this: “I wish to go somewhere now, and there is nothing on the way that requires my investigation. I do not want my eyes pulling me in all directions. This urge to never miss what is going on is really quite pointless and unbecoming. How many times has my inquisitive nature led me to stumble? Curiosity comes with an expensive price tag.  Straightening out our priorities would then lessen our precarious juggling act: trying to catch half-glimpses while simultaneously hoping, of course, to maintain our purity. Overcoming inquisitiveness, like anything else, can be accomplished with habit. Those twitches of curiosity that were forever pushing us to look around start to fade away.




2 Kislev



Shatnez is being found in shoes. It is recommended to test shoes which are covered in wool, linen-like fabric, tweed or plaid for Shatnez.


Vaad L’Mishmeres Shatnez certifies shatnez laboratories in the tri-state area.

Vaad L’Mishmeres Shatnez can be reached at 1.877.4.SHATNEZ



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: 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!  Can you identify the Pasuk?  Hint: It is in Sefer Tehillim.  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 take leave of Parashas Toldos, we provide the splendidly meaningful words of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, as he comments on the final Pesukim of the Parasha 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 Two:  We begin our series on Shemiras Einayim from the wonderful Sefer: V’Haeir Eineinu: Enlighten Our Eyes, A Practical Guide to Shemiras Einayim. To obtain the entire Sefer, please call Rabbi Sonenzon: 732-363-8033.


Part 1


The 21st Century confronts the Jew with unique challenges as never before. The long years of exile are drawing to an end, and the Satan is in his death throes, fighting with all his might before he is to be vanquished forever.


As the curtain comes down on the very last act--who will finally win the day? The Satan is desperate to prevail. It is now or never, and this is his last shot. No holds barred. Ripped away are all former standards of modesty or decency. And we, who seek to avoid the impure, feel fragile and vulnerable to provocation and assault.


It feels like there’s some worldwide conspiracy out there that’s out to suck everyone down into the mud. The method may be subtle and suggestive, or shrill and aggressive, but it almost always seems to aim its barbs towards our eyes. Living in today’s race for instant fun, and with the prevailing attitude that “anything goes”, how does a Jew hope to keep his eye pure and holy?


Fraught with Negativity


It would seem that shmiras einayim must be fraught with negativity since we need to keep on nudging ourselves: “Don’t look! Keep your eyes down and never mind what you’re missing out on!” But constraining unruly urges can be a bitter struggle, because trying to suppress powerful desires is like squashing down a coiled spring that is gathering the strength to jump right back with more force than before


Having a Positive Attitude


The answer to this, says Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z”tl, is to focus on the benefits of guarding one’s eyes. The struggle, then, is no longer between enjoying a certain pleasure and giving it up, but rather between choosing one pleasure in favor of another one.


Sending ourselves positive messages and cultivating positive attitude might be far more helpful. We could reiterate our basic premise that deep down we really want to stay inside the Torah’s safety net and be clean and pure.


We’re not seeking to be awash in momentary thrills; we choose to rise above that kind of thing. They leave long-term damage and have caused untold havoc in enough areas already. We’ll go for the gold--true spiritual wealth and eternal bliss.


This style of thinking is far more effective. We are no longer suppressing our basic desires. Taking pride in preserving one’s purity by saying no to forbidden pleasures gives a marvelous boost to the morale.

A spirited and upbeat attitude turns shmiras einayim into an informed preference as to how we wish to live, rather than a difficult sacrifice which drains our energy.



Special Note Three: Today is the 52nd 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 worse, perhaps you would join forces with those who would do him harm.  Now, let us see Avrohom 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.  Avrohom 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, Avrohom 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 Avrohom 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 Avrohom 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?!



Special Note Four: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.





I once took a course in writing STA”M, and was told that I have a kosher script. Should I write the Sefer Torah myself even though the kesav won’t be too nice, or is it better to pay a professional sofer to write the Sefer Torah for me?





If you can only produce a “kosher script,” but are not an expert in Hilchos STA”M, there is no doubt that you should pay a sofer to write the Sefer Torah for you.


If, however, your writing is halachically sound, and you have a firm grasp of Hilchos STA”M, then a real question arises. It seems that in such an instance, it would be preferable that you write it yourself. Indeed, there were Gedolim throughout the generations who went to great lengths to write their own Sifrei Torah.





In my situation it makes the most sense to hire a sofer to write the Sefer Torah for me. Must I formally appoint him to be a shaliach (agent) for me, or do I fulfill the mitzvah without that?





It is not necessary to formally appoint the sofer as your agent. If you hire him and pay him, it is as if you appointed him.




28 Marcheshvan

FROM DIVREI SIACH: The following is excerpted from a special issue of the Divrei Siach, which provides the reaction of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, to the massacre of the Kedoshim in Har Nof. These words were related by HaRav Kanievsky’s son in-law, HaRav Yitzchak Kolodetsky, Shlita: “The Niftarim HaKedoshim, Hashem Yinkom Damam, have a very great zechus, in that they merited to pass from this world Ahl Kiddush Hashem, having performed the Mitzvos of Kriyas Shema, Zechiras Yetziyas Mitzrayim, Semichus Geulah L’Tefillah and Shemone Esrei wearing Tallis and Tefillin, and especially passing away in a Beis HaKnesses is an especially great zechus and an even greater Kiddush Hashem. Certainly they entered directly into Gan Eden, and their passing is a Kapparah like Karbanos for all of K’lal Yisrael…. Even though these Kedoshim H’YD passed away in a brutal slaughter, it must be that their time to pass from this world had really come, and because they were Tzaddikim, Min HaShomayim their passing was arranged arising out of the Kiyum of many Mitzvos in order to greatly increase their reward…may these be the last human Karbanos for K’lal Yisrael, and Hashem will wipe away the tears from all faces, and may we merit the Geulah Sheleimah Bemeheirah.”



WHAT WE CAN DO: Yesterday, we had noted the importance of individual reaction and action to the horror in Har Nof. We provide several follow-up items:


A. Audio links of the Divrei Chizuk V’Hisorerus given the following evening by HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita (19 minutes) and HaRav Elya Brudny, Shlita (37 minutes) follow:

Rav Schorr -  http://tinyurl.com/o5eduoc

Rav Brudny -  http://tinyurl.com/pd9ql9j


B. In order to give a Kabbalah one is making important staying-power, one should perhaps make the Kabbalah until Chanukah. Once again, the Kabbalah should constitute at least a little bit of a challenge or a small change in daily routine. Here is some feedback: (a) One Rav’s Kabbalah is to recite the Bracha of Sim Shalom with greater Kavannah on the Peirush Hamilim; (b) Another Rav contacted us, and pointed to the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon (Chelek Sheini, Perek Daled), in which the Chofetz Chaim brings the Zohar which teaches that: “Charbah U’Ketalah--the sword and death come to the world because of the cheit of Lashon Hara.” If a person would keep a notebook in which one briefly recorded c’v any Lashon Hara infractions, he will soon find his sins in this area dissipating; (c) A reader’s Kabbalah was to recite the phrase at the end of Shema Koleinu: “Ki Attah Shomei’ah Tefillas Amecha Yisrael B’Rachamim” with Kavannah in each Shemone Esrei--especially emphasizing the request for Rachamim--for mercy; (d) The Sefer Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 25) writes that Dovid HaMelech would daven for Yiras Shomayim with the following words (Tehillim 86:11): “Horeini Hashem Darkecha Ahaleich Ba’amitecha Yacheid Levavi Leyirah Shemecha--teach me Hashem Your way so that I may go in Your truth, unite my heart to fear Your Name.” By reciting this Pasuk just a few times a day--one is following in the footsteps of Dovid HaMelech in demonstrating his true yearning to attain Yiras Shomayim; and (e) In this week’s Parasha, we learn the eternal lesson of Hakol Kol Yaakov. Rashi (Bereishis 27: 22) writes that the Kol Yaakov refers not only to Tefillah to Hashem, but to the way one speaks: “Lashon Tachanunim--Kum Nah”--to speak a pleasant, soft, respectful tone. Whether a person is davening to Hashem or speaking to others--he should remember that his Kol must be a Kol Yaakov, and with this he will overcome and defeat--just as Yaakov Avinu did in this week’s Parasha--the Yadayim Yedei Eisav.


C. A reader sent us Rabbi Eliezer’s Ginsburg’s suggestion for action:




In response to the terrible tragedy that occurred on Tuesday in Har Nof, Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg, Rosh Kollel of Mir Yeshiva Brooklyn, asked that the following appeal be emailed to as many people as possible:

The Midrash says that whatever negative things we, Klal Yisrael do, the Arabs will do as well, but they will do it even worse than us.


·                                 If we ignore Sefarim, the Arabs will burn them

·                                 If we don’t educate our children in Torah and Mitzvos, the Arabs will take them away.

·                                 If people are disrespectful of our holy places of Tefillah and Learning, the Arabs attack them.


And so Rabbi Ginsburg is begging us all to pledge not to bring cell phones, smart phones or other Internet devices into our holy Shuls and Batei Midrash for the next 40 days. We should do this for our own Shemirah and as a zechus for the Kedoshim who were slaughtered HY”D in Har Nof.


Hakhel Note:  We know of another Shul in which it is prohibited to take out one’s cell phone.  If one feels he must take it out for any reason, he must leave the Shul to do so.


D.   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.   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!


E. We have been advised that Kupat Ha’ir has established a fund for the Kedoshim’s families under the auspices of HaRav Rubin, Shlita, Rav of K’hal Bnei Torah in Har Nof. To make a donation, one may call Kupat Ha’ir’s 24 hour Hotline: 1-888-587-2842.



REMEMBERING THE MUMBAI KEDOSHIM: As may be known to you, Shabbos is the sixth 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, 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 Parashas Toldos.  The Parasha, 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 Avrohom 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 Avrohom’s Petira was HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s will, and that it would be up to those remaining to carry on what Avrohom Avinu represented and stood for.  Eisav, on the other hand, was exhausted from the gross aveiros that he committed upon hearing of Avrohom’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:


We present the following excerpts from Guide to Medical Halachah for Shabbos by Rabbi Reuven Biala, Z’tl: 


1.  When it is permitted to take medication on Shabbos, it also permitted to puncture a capsule to remove the inside liquid or powder for use.  One may tear the wrapping around a pill, but should make every effort not to tear it in a place where there is lettering.  It is permitted to crush or chop a pill on Shabbos; doing so does not transgress the Melecha of grinding (tochein). 


2.  There is dispute among Poskim as to the conditions under which an adult may be permitted to take vitamins on Shabbos.  However, all children under the age of three are permitted to take vitamins.  If a child has a weak constitution, the child is permitted to take vitamins until the age of nine. 


3.  When removing a band-aid from its package, care should be taken not to tear the lettering.  If possible, the wrapper should be opened at the ends (in brands which are not closed by glue) so as to avoid tearing the wrapper on Shabbos.  However, if this is not possible, the wrapper should be opened in a manner which renders it unfit for future use, once again taking care not to rip any printed lettering.  The bandage should then not be wrapped completely around the finger, so that one end of the bandage sticks to the other; rather, it should be applied in such a way that both sides of it stick to the skin of the finger.  If one has mistakenly applied a band-aid on Shabbos in a manner which leaves the ends of a band-aid attached to one another, care must be taken not to slip it off and discard it, thus deeming the attachment permanent (thus having in effect sewed the two ends together--i.e., tofeir).  Instead, the band-aid should be removed after Shabbos.  If the band-aid had been attached before Shabbos, then it may be removed in any fashion. However, one should not remove any adhesive if it will inevitably pull out hair. 


4.  If one perspires, he may use talcum powder, if it has no therapeutic additive.  The talc is permitted on Shabbos because it is not curative--it does not cure the perspiration.


5.  One is permitted to sprinkle surgical dusting powder on a wound to stop the bleeding, or to wash a wound directly with water or hydrogen peroxide.  One may also use tincture of iodine or alcohol to cleanse the wound and prevent infection.  Any powder or material that stops bleeding is permitted; however, anything that draws blood out is forbidden.  When using water or hydrogen peroxide, one should once again apply it directly, rather than taking an absorbent cotton or pad and dipping them into a liquid, as this could result in squeezing out the liquid, which is forbidden. 



Special Note Two:  Several questions on the Parasha, 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: At the outset of the Parasha 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! Hakhel Note: It would appear from here that a person who provides or serves food to others has an obligation to clarify the appropriate bracha before serving the food item.


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 Pasuk (Bereishis 46:7), recoding 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 Bentsching, 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!



Hakhel Note Three: 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!


QUESTION:  At the end of the Parasha, 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!



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


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, 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 and overriding  duty and obligation.  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 Tza’ir--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, 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:  As we have noted in the past, 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.   We provide the splendidly meaningful words of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, as he comments on the final Pesukim of the Parasha in his classic Sefer Love Your Neighbor: 

VaYikrah Yitzchak El Yaakov VaYivarech Oso, VaYitzavehu VaYomer Lo, Lo Tikach Isha M’Bnos 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!


H.  We once again provide the extremely powerful lesson from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, on the Haftarah that we read this 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 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 Four:  Our annual winter reminder: As we enter the winter season (above the Equator), more and more of us will be wearing dark coats and black galoshes and boots, and bringing umbrellas to shuls, simchas and other public places.  The inevitable (well, almost-inevitable) happens:


         My coat is gone and a look-alike with someone else’s name is left in its place!

         Reuven must have taken my boots!

         I took someone else’s umbrella and I won’t be going back to shul until tonight!


HaRav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 5:9, paragraph 7) provides us with his p’sak in these situations.  His response is beautifully presented by Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita in The Halachos of Other People’s Money (Feldheim Publishers) page 199:


“If someone found that his coat, hat, rubbers, etc. was mistakenly switched, he is permitted to use the other person’s coat until he can find the owner and switch back.  Although generally one may not use a found item without permission from its owner… when items are switched, it is customary for people not to mind if the other person uses theirs [unless there is reason to believe that the owner would object].  However, if it turns out that the other person did not switch with him, he must ask the owner if he wishes to be compensated for the use of his coat.


Any institution that has a coatroom with a lot of traffic where coats are occasionally switched should, preferably, institute a switched coat policy.  The policy should state that anyone who leaves his coat or other article there, is doing so on condition that if it is switched, each party explicitly agrees in advance to give the other party permission to use the other person’s item.  This policy should be posted on the bulletin board or in the coatroom for all to see.”


We ask that you discuss with your Rav, gabbai, executive director, etc. the possibility of instituting such a policy.  You may save people walking home without a coat, hat, galoshes or the like in the winter weather.  You will certainly feel your own inner warmth in accomplishing this very special bain odom l’chaveiro!


For further reference in this area, see Aruch HaShulchan, Choshen Mishpat 136:2); and the following contemporary Shailos u’Teshuvos:  Shevet HaLevi 6:238, and Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:818.




27 Marcheshvan

NEW OPPORTUNITY IN EUROPE --SPREAD THE WORD! The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shailah Hotline now has Poskim available in Europe ! HaRav Yaakov Wreschner, Shlita ( Manchester ) is available between 9:15AM and 10:15AM and between 1:15 and 2:15PM . His mobile number is 07980641399. Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner, Shlita, is available at 02088008555 (no set hours).



EXTREMELY MEANINGFUL MESSAGE: “There is no lifestyle that is as beautiful, fulfilling and joyful as a Torah lifestyle. It is our responsibility to convey this truth to others by the way we conduct ourselves. To give the impression that because we are Torah observant we are deprived in some way is a disgrace to Hashem’s Name and is the height of ingratitude. Conversely, when an observant Jew radiates genuine happiness with his lot in life, this brings glory to Hashem and His Torah.” (Excerpted from Let There Be Rain: A Lesson a Day on Making Gratitude a Part of Our Lives, by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein)



REMEMBER--YOUR FIRST BRACHA IN THE MORNING: For most, the first bracha they will recite in the morning, is the bracha of Ahl Netilas Yadayim. The Sha’ar HaKavnos writes that there are thirteen words in this bracha, corresponding to the thirteen Middos of Rachamim from Hashem. Have this in mind…a tefillah for Hashem’s mercy…as you start your day!




Special Note One: As we try to participate, as a thinking member of K’lal Yisrael, with Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and as a zecher to the Kedoshim, and as a zechus Refuah Sheleimah for the injured, we provide the following brief suggestions:


A. If one is going to undertake one ‘small’ thing to change--yes, it most certainly should be doable--but it should be at least a little bit of a challenge or a small change in daily routine. Arriving in Shul or to Shiur two minutes early--rather than on time, is one example. Another example would be to refrain one time a day from speaking even though you were not going to say Lashon Hara and you were not sure that what you were about to say would even lead to Lashon Hara either. Your awareness of the ability to control your tongue is a great personal accomplishment on an ongoing basis. Another real possibility is an improvement in Shemiras Einayim for men, and in an area of Tzniyus for women. We hope to begin a short series on Shemiras Einayim next week based upon the Sefer Enlighten Our Eyes by Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Goldschmidt, Shlita--but please don’t wait for our series to begin taking your own personal, private step.


B. When reciting the words of Av HaRachamim on Shabbos, or hearing the words ‘Kedoshim U’Tehorim’--one should have a greater feeling and insight into the Kedusha that our people have achieved not only in previous generations--but in our generation as well.


C. Perhaps we can bli neder undertake to recite one Kepitel Tehillim a day specifically for terrorist events not to happen. Let us remember the words of Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 34:5) “Darashti Es Hashem V’anani Umikol Megurosai Hitzilani--I sought out Hashem and He answered me, and from my terror He delivered me.” We cannot shun or repress the times we live in--we must respond to them in the way that a Torah Jew should.



Special Note Two: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.




My shul would like to commission the writing of a Sefer Torah. If I contribute, would I be considered a partner, and thereby fulfill the Torah obligation of writing a Sefer Torah?



This is one of the most widely discussed questions in all of Hilchos STA”M. Tens of responsa have been written on the subject by poskim spanning the generations. They also address related and secondary questions such as:


1)      Is a formal partnership agreement required among the contributors?

2)      What if one of the partners has no obligation to write a Sefer Torah (such as a woman). Does that nullify the partnership?


Many poskim are of the opinion that one can indeed fulfill one’s obligation to write a Sefer Torah by becoming a partner, while many other poskim reject the notion. However, all agree that donating money toward the purchase of a Sefer Torah is a positive act. Hence, by doing so, one at least fulfills his obligation according to some poskim – and has certainly spent his money wisely according to all opinions.


Does one who fills in a hollow letter at a Hachnasas Sefer Torah fulfill the obligation of writing a Sefer Torah?



Unfortunately this is a common misconception. Although the Talmud does indeed tell us that one who corrects or amends even one letter of a Sefer Torah fulfills his obligation of writing a Sefer Torah, that only refers to the one who owns the Sefer Torah. To fill in a letter of someone else’s Sefer Torah is no mitzvah at all. It is worth mentioning as well that an outlined letter which only needs to be filled-in is already kosher from a halachic standpoint. The custom of honoring people with filling in letters upon the completion of a Sefer Torah is simply a means of including family, friends, or community members in the spiritual joy and significance of the occasion. Filling in a letter is not considered an action with any halachic significance. Indeed, a number of Gedolim practiced quite a bit in order to be able to write an entire letter to complete their personal Sifrei Torah.




26 Marcheshvan

PESUKEI BITACHON: In these extremely difficult and moving times, we must emphasize and overemphasize Bitachon as the mainstay of our existence. We provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/58jueq  Pesukei Bitachon for one to review, which have been excerpted from the Sefer Hamevorach Yisborach. A person will typically find one or more Pesukim which especially move him based upon his Techunas Henefesh, and his past experience. One should definitely keep a Pasuk of Bitachon close to him for reiteration in the Ikvasa D’meshicha.



DAM KADOSH: As we have noted in the past, HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, explains that in this last Galus of Galus Yishmael, the Arabs seek nothing else but Jewish blood. He teaches that the way to prevent the Arabs from any future success in this area is by making our blood holy (‘Dam Kadosh’), so that they can have no shelita, no power, over it. How can we make our blood Kadosh on a going forward basis? HaRav Rabanovitch explains that there are two primary ways to do so:


1. We should be as careful as possible with the Kashrus level of the food and drink we consume--looking for Mehadrin products, and not settling for ‘bedi’eved’ Kashrus situations. The Kedusha of what we eat will be carried through our blood stream.


2. One should be careful to recite brachos over food and drink with Kavannah--thereby further instilling Kedusha invested in the food and drink into the blood stream of our bodies.


For those who could understand his powerful original words in Yiddish (less than two minutes), we provide a recording of them by the following link --  http://tinyurl.com/lzh7qwh



REMINDER--TZION BAMISHPAT TIPADEH: Yeshayahu HaNavi ( 1:27 ) reveals to us:  “Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh VeShaveha B’Tzedakah--we will be redeemed through justice and through Tzedakah.” We are all familiar with the importance of giving Tzedakah for the sake of Geulah. But how does the first part of the Pasuk relating to ‘judging’ apply to us on a daily basis as well? Every day, we are engaged in the process of judging other people. Let us be sure at the outset to judge them favorably. Imagine the Moshiach telling you that you fulfilled your part--in both parts of the Pasuk!   Hakhel Note: We all, of course, should try to give Tzedaka l’ilui nishmos the Kedoshim, and as a zechus for the Refuah Sheleimah for those injured.



ASEI! Every day, three times a day, at the end of Shemone Esrei we exclaim: “Asei LeMa’an Shemecha, Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha, Asei LeMa’an Kedushasecha, Asei LeMa’an Torasecha.” We plead with Hashem to bring us the Yeshuos that we need--not only for our sakes, but for Hashem’s name, Hashem’s power, Hashem’s holiness and Hashem’s Torah. As we think today about yesterday’s massacre, let us resolve to have great Kavannah in each one of these pleas--as we so longingly look to Hashem to bring the Go’el--B’Ahava.




Special Note One: Something more on bringing Bitachon home in a very real way. The following very meaningful teaching is excerpted from Growth Through Tehillim, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita: 


Lamenatzei’ach L’eved Hashem…For the Conductor; by the servant of Hashem…” (Tehillim 18:1).  The term Lamenatzei’ach, which is the first word of this Chapter is translated as “Conductor.” The term “Conductor” is understood to mean that, when music was played, there was a conductor to lead the musicians and the singers. But the term can readily be understood to refer to the Ultimate Conductor of the Universe.  Hashem is the Ultimate Power and Mind behind all that occurs in the world.  We constantly need to increase our understanding that, all that happens to us in life, was orchestrated by the One Who directs all events, situations, and circumstances. We are, in a sense, the ‘actors’ who perform against the background that has been set up for us.  However, unlike an actor in a major play where the entire script of what will be said and done has been written by someone else, in our lives we have total free will to choose what we will say and what we will do. It is our choices of words and actions that will make our lives a tremendous success or an utter failure.  The criteria for success and failure has nothing to do with how eloquently we speak or how dramatically we carry out our actions.  Rather, success is speaking and acting according to the will of Hashem. Failure is the opposite. 


The background of events, situations, and circumstances is not always to our liking.  Many things happen in the world in which we live that we find challenging. That is however, exactly what makes a great actor--one who utilizes the difficult factors and performs magnificently, nevertheless.  Thus, with this in mind, when we are faced with a challenge, we should ask ourselves, “What are the wisest things for me to say and do now, that will ensure a great performance?” The Judge of our performance is Hashem, Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  If He approves of what we say and do, then our life performance is an unqualified success. If He disapproves, then even if we have the approval of other mortals, we have not yet accomplished our life’s mission.  Let us be resolved to live our lives in ways that are pleasing to our loving Creator. The one thing to remember is that all that arises in our lives are more opportunities to serve Hashem in ways that will enhance us. 


Lamenatzei’ach--Hashem is the Conductor--we know He does His part.  The challenge of our daily lives is L’eved Hashem--for us to take what Hashem places before us and sanctify our lives with it!



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


There is a great lesson to be learned here.  We must be upstanding and resolute in declaring that we are, absolutely and unwaveringly, openly and expressly, dedicated to our beliefs.  In order to develop this pure, dedicated, wholesome resoluteness within us, it may be a good idea to recite the 13 Ani Ma’amins of the Rambam slowly and with feeling. It may be even further beneficial to express some of these principles from time to time to those around you without fear or shame.  It is truly surprising how often these values can come up in, or be added to, the course of a regular or everyday conversation.


If Eliezer could have this effect on Lavan and Besuel--how so much more can we accomplish!



25 Marcheshvan

AS A ZECHUS: The family of the three-month girl who was murdered in Yerushalayim by an Arab terrorist, Chaya Zissel (a’h) Bas R’ Shmuel Elimelech (amush) are urging those who do not have Asher Yatzar posters or wallet sized cards to obtain them and use them to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu for the great gifts of the human body. To obtain as many as you need for yourself or your institution please contact asheryatzar1@gmail.com or 845-352-0111.



FOR ACHEINU BNEI YISRAEL IN ERETZ YISRAEL: We hope we have given Avrohom Avinu nachas and will continue to give him nachas through the loving kindness that we demonstrate.  However, in addition to the Chesed we perform physically with our bodies, and monetarily with our possessions, we must remember to daven to Hashem for those in need--as, after all, Hashem is the Source of all blessing. Chazal (Pesachim 87A) teach that Hosheiah HaNavi was reprimanded for not asking Hashem to have mercy on K’lal Yisrael and for not invoking the zechus avos from which we come.  Chazal teach that he should have exclaimed:  “Banecha Heim Benei Chanunecha Bnei Avrohom, Yitzchak V’Yaakov Galgel Rachamecha Aleihem--nevertheless Hashem, they are Your children, the children of Your beloved ones, Avrohom Yitzchak and Yaakov, heap mercy upon them!”  Dovid Hamelech says it clearly in Tehillim (116:3-4):  “Tzara V’Yagon Emtzah; U’Vesheim Hashem Ekrah…-- I find pain and agony; I call out to Hashem.”  We suggest that not only through one’s actions, but through one’s personal Tefillos, one can tell how Nosei B’ol Im Chaveiro he really is.  Let us make this a priority in the coming days!



FROM A READER: “You must warn people not to text and drive at the same time. If each of your readers warns at least one person not to text and drive at the same time--who knows how much injury, and perhaps how many lives, can be saved. The same is true about talking on a cell phone while driving without a Bluetooth.” Hakhel Note: Our hallmark is to be rachmanim and gomlei chasodim--what better way to demonstrate these traits than by exercising care and caution with our lives--and the lives of others!




Special Note One: Concluding points and pointers on last week’s Parasha:


A. Avrohom Avinu spoke directly to the Bnei Cheis: “U’Figu Li BeEfron Ben Tzochar--please introduce me to the person whom I want to meet.” There is no point in meeting this person or that person, or going through formalities. The lesson: if it is at all possible, do not make meetings--but go directly to doing!


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


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


D. Last week, we had posed the question as to why the Torah had to teach us by Eliezer bowing down that we are to give thanks to Hashem over  good news. After all, did we not already learn this lesson from Avrohom Avinu at the outset of Parashas Lech Lecha?  We may possibly suggest that Avrohom Avinu was expressing great thanks to Hashem for the goodness that He had given him and his descendants.  Eliezer’s expression of thanks was, however, very different.  He was thanking Hashem for a Besorah Tova for the benefit of another, from which he did not benefit at all.  Indeed, quite to the contrary, because Yitzchak had a wife, Avrohom could have future generations, which meant that Avrohom’s great wealth would not be bequeathed to Eliezer.  Moreover, the fact that Rivka was to become Yitzchak’s wife with certainty now destroyed any hope that Eliezer had for Yitzchak to marry his daughter.  Nevertheless, and despite all of this, Eliezer thanked Hashem for the Besorah Tova--for the good news to another.  Certainly, then, in situations where we hear of the Simcha or good news of a friend we should remember the lesson of Eliezer--and express thanks to Hashem for the good news of another, very much as if it was one’s own!  


E. We find the phrase ‘Baruch Hashem’ recited by Eliezer (following the ‘Baruch Keil Elyon’ recited by MalkiZedek in Parashas Lech Lecha).  In Sefer Shemos, we will learn that Yisro also recited ‘Baruch Hashem’.  Thus, blessing Hashem is something that the B’nai Noach are eminently capable of.  Are we, then, any different?  We may suggest that what makes us different is that we not only recite ‘Baruch Hashem’, but ‘Baruch Atah Hashem--we acknowledge the You--the presence of Hashem before us.  Hashem is not a Great Diety who is far away, but rather he is our Hashem, whose presence we acknowledge that we stand in at all times.  Moreover, our relationship is so personal and direct that it is not chutzpa--but rather a sign of love and affection--to refer to our G-d in the ‘second person’ personal, as no one else in the world can.  When reciting a Bracha, we should note that it is not just Baruch Hashem--but Baruch Atah Hashem--- and especially rejoice with the word ‘Atah’--for it so distinguishes and elevates us from the billions in the world around us!


F. The Seforno writes two specific points in Derech Eretz that we learn from the Parasha:


1. From Eliezer’s request of Rivka to give him water only for himself--we see that a guest should ask for less than he really needs.


2. From Rivka’s beautifully effusive response--feeding all of the camels as well--we learn that a host should do more than he really has to.


G. HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, notes that from the Torah’s detail and ostensible repetition relating to the events in last week’s Parasha, we learn what a premium the Torah places on Derech Eretz. However, most acts of Derech Eretz must arise from our own common sense and sensibilities. For example, one should be careful not to disturb someone else’s sleep, not because if he does so it would be ‘gezel sheina’ or because he would be deemed a ‘mazik’ for doing so--but simply because a person is not acting like a mentsch if he does not sufficiently care about the sleep of another . Every person must at a minimum conduct himself in accordance with a code of behavior that all people living in a society should understand. A person must always be concerned that he acts as a Min Hayishuv--part of a civilized society. The reason that gezel was the sin that brought down the Dor HaMabul is because everyone should have understood that gezel is wrong--and yet they all did it anyways. There is a greater chiyuv on a person to act in a way which is self-understood to be the good and proper conduct of a human being. One should not ask: “Where is it written that I can’t do that?” It should be written in your head and your heart--even if it is not written in the Torah or in any Sefer. A person should always take into account the feelings and needs of those around him to, as HaRav Erlanger teaches be a chaver tov to the chevras bnei adam--all of those in the world around him!


H. There is a Yiddish term sometimes used by those who wish to perform a Mitzvah in the most perfunctory manner--yotzei tzu zain--so that he has fulfilled the Mitzvah. The yotzei in a sense can mean here--to leave the Mitzvah--to shake himself off, to patur himself from it. In the context of Chesed, this may occur when a person does the minimum that he has to in order to be recognized as having performed it. Bikur Cholim, for instance, when only has a couple of minutes to perform it saying “Sorry I have to go”, or especially arriving for Nichum Aveilim at a time that the room is crowded and one will stay for a few moments and recite the Hamakom…may, depending upon the circumstances fall within the yotzei tzu zain category which we suggest a person should avoid. After all, is that the way the Avos would perform the Mitzvah?!--Let us once again recall our guideline--”Masai Yagiyu Maasai LeMa’asei Avosai, LeMa’asei Avrohom, Yitzchak V’Yaakov.”  To avoid this from being mere lip service, we must pay special attention not only to an act of Chesed--but to the quality of its performance!



Special Note Two:   The second bracha of Shemone Esrei is known as ‘Gevuros’, which is the Middah of Yitzchak Avinu. Techiyas Hameisim (which may be a part of the Akeidah) referred to above is also known as ‘Gevuros’, for in this bracha we demonstrate HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s absolute Omnipotence.


The Ritva (Taanis 2A) notes that the concept of Techiyas HaMeisim is mentioned four (4) times in this bracha.  While Techiyas HaMeisim is certainly unparalleled gevuros--why need it be mentioned four different times within one short bracha?  As we know, the Anshei K’nesses HaGedola compiled each bracha B’Ruach HaKadosh, and each word is very literally counted and deeply meaningful (see the remarkable words of the Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chayim 112:4, 5).


In response to this question, the Ritva teaches that in fact there is no reiteration here at all.  Rather, there are four separate and distinct forms of Techiyas HaMeisim mentioned in this bracha:


FIRST:  “Mechaye Meisim Ata Rav L’Hoshia” is immediately followed by Morid HaGeshem, because this phase refers to Hashem’s bringing us to life with proper rain, which bring us our food and sustenance.


SECOND:  “Mechaye Meisim B’Rachamim Rabim” (which is followed by Somech Noflim) refers to people who are seriously or even deathly ill whom HaKadosh Boruch Hu brings back to life through miraculous healing power.


THIRD:  “Melech Meimis U’Mechaye” refers to the departed whom the Neviim (such as Eliyahu HaNavi and Elisha HaNavi) helped bring back to life, and additionally to those whom Hashem brings to life “B’Olom HaNeshomos” (obviously this is a niftar concept).


FOURTH:  “V’Neeman Ata L’Hachayos Meisim” refers to the ultimate Techiyas HaMeisim, which we all anxiously await.


We see here how Hashem’s greatest gevuros have always been with us, are currently with us and will in the future be with us, as well.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  During this week, in which Yitzchak Avinu comes to the fore as the successor of Avrohom Avinu, we should especially appreciate the Middah of Gevurah of Hashem that Yitzchak Avinu did,  by stopping at each of the four references to Techiyas HaMeisim and thinking for a second about its particular meaning.




24 Marcheshvan

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


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


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




Special Note One:  We are at the midway point between Sukkos and Chanukah, but we now seem to find ourselves in difficult straits.  Looking back and looking forward there is joy; what are we to make of the times now?  In a Shiur given before the Six Day War, when the situation in Eretz Yisrael was dire and desperate (to say the least), HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, taught as follows:  When we feel a heavy hand of Hashem upon us, it is for two purposes--to attain atonement for our sins, and to reprove us so that we improve our ways.  When the entire community suffers, each individual must recognize that a community does not have a separate and distinct existence.  Rather, a community is made up of many individuals.  In fact, Hashem does not make a gezeirah against the K’lal unless each individual in that K’lal  is supposed to receive exactly that which he receives.  This is a cardinal principal of our Emunah--”HaTzur Tamim Pa’alo--Hashem’s actions are perfect” (Devarim 32:4).  This means that each individual’s particular tircha and tza’ar is, in a manner which is beyond our comprehension, fully decreed and accounted for by Hashem.  With this in mind, it is imperative that we remember Who it is that is bringing the difficult times, the yissurin, the punishments upon us.  It is Avinu HaAv HaRachaman.  In fact, Chazal (Sanhedrin 46A) teach that when Hashem metes punishment upon a person, Hashem Himself kaveyachol feels the pain along with the person.  We must accordingly remember the words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim (85:10):  “Ach Karov Lireiav Yisho…--surely His salvation is close to those who fear Him.”  We are not to fear, be depressed or dejected--we are to realize that the Yeshuah will come.  The key now is not to hide in a time of tzara, not to ‘get lost in the crowd’.  Rather, one should view himself as responsible to work for the Yeshuas HaTzibbur through his own personal Teshuvah and Ma’asim Tovim, recognizing that every ma’aseh tovah katan--every little good deed that he does really could tip the scales to zechus and hatzalah.  Indeed, it is not even only physical actions that could accomplish this--it is every machshavah tovah, any additional Kavannah in Tefillah, every minute of learning, and any iyun in learning that could turn things around for himself and his people.  Shmuel HaNavi enlightened Shaul with the following words (Shmuel I, 15:17 ):  “Halo Im Katan Atta BeAinecha Rosh Shivtei Yisrael Atta--you may be small in your own eyes, but you are a leader for K’lal Yisrael.”  These, teaches HaRav Friedlander, are the guiding words which each and every one of us must live by.  These days are precious.  We are all perturbed, we are all wondering, we all don’t know why this suffering is happening, why it is continuing, and what will happen in the future.  Unlike the other nations of the world, however, we are blessed with the words of Chazal and our Talmidei Chachomim who guide us and enlighten us on the path of righteousness, on the path of truth.  Each and every one of us has to remember who we are--and how we can help ourselves and K’lal Yisrael.  Remember--soon we will experience the light of Chanukah--may our thoughts, our Tefillos, and our actions bring us there joyously and successfully! 


Additional Note: what a perfect time for a special 30-Day Kabbalah--thirty days before Chanukah!



Special Note Two: We learn of Eliezer’s trip to and from Aram Naharayim. We most certainly believe that he would have recited Tefillas HaDerech both to and from, notwithstanding that he was a Shaliach Mitzvah. The following notes on Tefillas HaDerech are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 110):


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


B.  It is possible that one can be yotzei Tefillas HaDerech on a bus through a ramkol.  Although the Minchas Yitzchak and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl do not allow it, it is brought in the name of the Chazon Ish and Igros Moshe that one perhaps could be yotzei. Accordingly, one must consult with his Rav.  Additional Note:  Even if one can be yotzei in this way, many Poskim (including HaRav Shmuel Vozner, Shlita and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita hold that because Tefillas HaDerech is a  Bakashas Rachamim--a request for mercy--it should preferably be recited by each individual separately.  Additionally, if one is going to be yotzei with someone else, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that it should be someone who is still obligated to recite the Tefillah--and not someone who was already yotzei and just reciting it for you.


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


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


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



Special Note Three: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.





A reason given last time explaining why most people are not obligated to purchase a Sefer Torah nowadays is the prohibitive cost involved. What about buying a used Sefer Torah? These can often be purchased for less money. Would this be a recommended course of action?





It depends on how one defines “used.” Some Sifrei Torah have been “used” for 25 years, while other Sifrei Torah have been “used” for 75 years or more.


The Seforim which can be purchased for “very little money” (usually under $7500 – some as little as $500) are, as a general rule, more than fifty years old, and usually not kosher. The halachic issues one confronts in such Sifrei Torah are oftentimes insurmountable. Even in situations where the Sefer Torah can be repaired, the cost involved to make meaningful and lasting repairs are usually prohibitive. The salesmen who try to sell such Sifrei Torah and assure the potential customer that these Sefarim are l’chatchilah or mehudar, are frequently unfamiliar with the halachos of the product they are attempting to sell. Such Sifrei Torah almost always have faded or cracked letters by the hundreds (and even thousands), and often have letters peeling off because the parchment has dried out.


When the salesman says that the Sefer Torah has been, or can be, “treated” or “sprayed,” warning signs should start flashing. Although these treatments can and often do retard the aging process, they “open a pandora’s box” which will never close. Remember, even if the treatment is successful in forestalling disaster for ninety-nine out of every hundred problematic letters, the Sefer Torah is still not kosher. Suffice it to say that almost all of such Sifrei Torah require an investment of thousands upon thousands of dollars of corrections. In my opinion, one would be better off saving up to buy a newer (or totally new) Sefer Torah. This is because even after all the treatments, spraying, and corrections...the letters will still begin fading, flaking, or peeling off over a period of time.


Although Sifrei Torah between twenty and forty years old generally don’t have many of these issues, they are not usually the ones that are available for sale. When they are, they cannot be purchased for “very little money.”




21 Marcheshvan

SPECIAL CHAPTERS: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, brings that he saw in a reliable source that Tehillim Chapters 102 and 103 should be recited for a zechus to have children.



DOVID HAMELECH’S GUIDANCE: In these troubled and heart-wrenching times in Eretz Yisrael--let us recall the words of Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 108:13, 14): “Hava Lanu Ezras Mitzar V’shav Teshuas Adam Beilokim Na’aseh Chayil Vehu Yavus Tzareinu--give us help against the oppressor; man’s salvation is futile. Through Hashem will our valor come; He will trample our oppressors.”



A STORY AND ITS LESSON: Rabbi Yaakov Ornstein, a brilliant Yerushalmi scholar, went to visit a friend in the hospital. A patient whom the Rav did not know and who was noticeably worried about his poor condition, caught the Rav’s eye. Seeing a chessboard near the patient’s bed, he approached the patient and challenged him to a game of chess. In this manner he took the man’s mind off of his condition. (Love Your Neighbor, p. 53) Hakhel Note: The Chofetz Chaim writes that it is a Mitzvah Gedolah for one to move a person away from his worries and feelings of tza’ar. When one does so, the Chofetz Chaim continues, one not only performs the Mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha--but also gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem Himself. For, just as a father with a troubled son in a distant city would very much hope and desire that his son find someone there to give him chizuk and to aid him--so too, does Hashem hope that there are those who will give His children chizuk, take them out of their downtrodden state, and make them feel better….



A LESSON FROM CURRENT TECHNOLOGY: A reader advised us that current technology could allow for a small recorder in one’s pocket to tape every single word he will say in his long lifetime, and even sort his words--to identify how many times he has said a given word, and even how many times he has said that word in tandem with another particular word. We are not in a position to verify this technological fact, but just the thought helps us begin to appreciate that, after 120 years, in Shomayim they will not need an immense, mainframe computer to play back the words and conversations of a lifetime!



SWITCH RATHER THAN FIGHT: In this week’s Parasha, we learn that although Avrohom Avinu could have simply ‘taken’ the Me’oras HaMachpeilah as something that was rightfully his--promised to him by Hashem Himself. Avrohom chose not to do so--and paid an exorbitant price instead. We likewise learned in Parashas Lech Lecha that Avrohom Avinu muzzled his animals though the land would be his in the future (an attitude with which Lot disagreed). The Torah is providing us with a great Ma’aseh Avos--Shalom is worth o’ so much more than money--especially when one is dealing with the Umos HaOlam. Standing on principle may be technically just--but, as Avrohom Avinu teaches us, not ultimately worthwhile or correct. Money is finite. Shalom and Kiddush Hashem are infinite.



YOU CAN MAKE THINGS STAND UP! Also in this week’s Parasha, the Torah records (Bereishis 23:17 ): “VaYakam Sedei Efron…”--Rashi explains that the Pasuk does not simply record that Avrohom Avinu acquired the field from Efron, but rather that the field was uplifted by Avrohom Avinu purchasing it. The field no longer had a simple, earthly Olam Hazeh kind of existence--but was elevated into a spiritual realm of existence because Avrohom Avinu became the owner of it. As the descendants and heirs of Avrohom Avinu, we too have a similar capability with all of our encounters with Olam Hazeh as well. Whether it be money, food, clothing, furniture, or any of the other ‘pride and joy’ items of Olam Hazeh--we can lift each and every one of them up to a spiritual plane and purpose based upon how we treat them, and what we do with them. Proper brachos over food, clothing that will give nachas to Hashem, furniture which is necessary and not extra or excessive, are but a few of the many examples in our day-to-day life in which we too can create a ‘Vayakam’ on a daily basis in the world at large--uplifting ourselves, and the world along with us!



ONCE AGAIN--FROM ‘OUR AMAZING WORLD’! In order to get a better appreciation of the Chesed of our Avos and what we have to strive for, the Sefer Our Amazing World by Rabbi Avrohom Katz, Shlita, and Tuvia Cohen, Shlita, writes that a camel drinks more than 34 gallons at one time!  Since Eliezer had 10 camels, this would mean that Rivka as a young girl, supplied more than 340 gallons of water--to Eliezer’s camels alone!


While we are talking about the great Chesed of the Avos and Imahos, we note just one of the millions of Chasodim that Hashem showers upon us, also mentioned in Our Amazing World:


“If all the veins and capillaries that transport blood in an individual would be laid end to end, they would encircle the world twice.  We are talking about a distance of approximately 72,000 miles!”


Thank You Hashem!  Thank You Hashem!


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



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



THE LONGEST BRACHA: The longest bracha of Birchos HaShachar is clearly the last Bracha--which begins with Hama’avir Sheina… and ends with HaGomel Chassodim Tovim…--with many requests in between. Why are there all those requests in the middle of the bracha? We may suggest that the bracha begins with the first Chesed of the morning--Hashem opening our eyes and allowing us to begin the new day. We acknowledge this phenomenal Chesed, and proceed with a listing of more than 20 additional Chassodim throughout the day that we know are in Hashem’s hands. We are declaring: “Hashem, You started me off today--now please help me and guide me to make it a successful one.” We conclude our bracha with the acknowledgement that it is Hashem Who provides complete and absolute Chassodim--not only to oneself, but to our entire people. Hakhel Note: Having Kavannah in this bracha is certainly an outstanding way to begin the day. At the end of the day, may we be zoche to look back and exclaim (Tehillim 116:12): “Mah Ashiv LaShem Kol Tagmulohi Alai ”--how can I repay Hashem for all He granted me today!




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. Erev Shabbos Children’s Alert Reminders from Hatzalah:

  1. Consult a Rav concerning where to light Shabbos candles when young children are present.

  2. Never leave children unattended with burning candles.

  3. After lighting candles have someone place matches securely away.

  4. Place the spout of a hot water urn away from counter edge.  Do not use an extension cord or leave it within child’s reach.

  5. Children should not be in the kitchen while preparations for Shabbos are being made.

  6. Start Shabbos preparations early .Last minutes rushing causes hazardous and hectic situations.

  7. Never hold a child while drinking a hot liquid.

  8. Take all phones off the hook before bathing children.

  9. Have all necessary equipment with you before putting your child in a bath.

  10. Never, under any circumstances, leave a child alone in the tub-not even for a moment!  Take the child with you!


B. We provide the following Halachos relating to hotza’ah--carrying on Shabbos:


1. A children’s winter coat may have gloves attached to the sleeves. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that a child cannot walk out with the gloves attached without his hands inside of them--for the gloves are not considered a part of the sleeves, and would be considered a masui, unless they are being worn (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 201, Dirshu Note 95).


2. If one’s coat or jacket has a loop which is used to hang it on a hook and the loop is ripped, the Chazon Ish rules that if one intended to fix it, it would be assur to walk out with the jacket or coat on Shabbos. However, if one has decided that he will not fix it, then it would be batel to the coat, and one could walk out with the coat on Shabbos. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, adds that if one could fix the broken loop with a safety pin, then it is considered usable on Shabbos and is batel to the beged, and it is permitted to walk out with it on Shabbos (SA OC ibid., Dirshu Note 101).


3. With respect to reserve buttons on his shirt or jacket, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that they are not considered to be a masui, and it is permitted to walk out with them attached to one’s garment on Shabbos because that is their place, and they are specifically sewn there for that purpose--so that they will be available whenever necessary. The reserve buttons are not similar to the broken and unusable loop (described in the last paragraph), as the buttons are only intended to perhaps be used in a different place on the garment in the future . HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, and HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, both agree. (ibid., Note 102)


4. Going out with a hat which could blow off in the wind is problematic. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that the hat must be on firmly enough so that when going out it will stay on one’s head if an average wind would blow in that place and at that time of year --whether or not a wind is actually blowing at that time. If, in fact, one goes out when a strong (greater than average) wind is blowing, the hat must be on so firmly, that it will not blow off even in the strong wind (ibid., Dirshu Note 107)


5. Can a woman walk out with a Tallis on? The Magen Avrohom rules that it would be considered Hotza’ah D’Oraysah--for this is not a beged that she wears. The Mishna Berurah notes that there are those who disagree with the Magen Avrohom. (SA OC, Mishna Berurah seif katan 158)


6. Finally, can one wear a gartel out of shul to his home on Shabbos? HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, rules that one can simply not place it over his regular belt, but one can wear it on the outside of his jacket where it has some utility. The Az Nidbiru (HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl), rules that even this is not permitted. If, however, one is wearing a beketsche around which a gartel is usually worn, the Az Nidbiru would agree that this should be mutar. On the other hand, the Minchas Yitzchak rules that since a gartel is considered to be a tachshit during davening for one who davens with it, it would also be a tachshit after davening as well--and accordingly, one could wear it outside even over his belt, and need not wear it over his jacket. The Minchas Yitzchak does, however, write that one can be machmir on himself in this area. (ibid., 301, Dirshu Note 89) 



Special Note Two:  Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Chayei Sarah: 


A.  The following thought is adapted from Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (Page 52-53).


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


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


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


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


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


C. The Torah (Bereishis 24:17) relates that when Eliezer saw Rivka, he ran to greet her. The Torah has already taught us the importance of running to do Chesed, as it described in last week’s Parasha how Avrohom Avinu ran to the Malochim and hurried to take care of their needs. What is the Torah adding here by saying that Eliezer ran? We provide at least two suggestions:


1.  When it comes to redting a shidduch--do not wait until ‘tomorrow’ or ‘early next week’, or ‘until I finish with this or that’.  Instead, one should recognize that being involved in a shidduch is a multiple chesed--to the potential Chasan, the potential Kallah, and each of their respective immediate families. If one is in doubt--picture Eliezer--who could have said: “I made it here so quickly, let me rest for a while”, or “let me not rush into anything”--but instead wasted no time and ran to take care of it.


2. As we know, Eliezer desperately wanted Yitzchak for his own daughter. Although Avrohom Avinu had already advised him that he could not accept such a shidduch--Eliezer could have continued to dream of it very much. After all--there must have still been some possibility--and nothing short of eternity was at stake! Nevertheless, Eliezer, as a true student of Avrohom Avinu recognized that he must quash his own personal wants and desires for what was truly proper, for what was truly correct. His running to do the Mitzvah demonstrated how powerfully he had overcome his personal interests to do the will of Avrohom Avinu…and ultimately of Avinu SheBashomayim. If Eliezer, as a descendant of Chom could do so…how much more so we, as descendants of Avrohom Avinu can do so as well. VaYaratz--each and every one of us can do it!


D. When Eliezer asked Rivka if she could give him a drink, she first responded “Shesei Adoni (Bereishis 24:18), and only afterwards did she lower the jug into her hand and give him to drink. Let us reflect for a moment--How could he drink--if the pitcher was still on her shoulder?! We may suggest that the Torah is teaching us a great lesson in helping another in need. The immediate step is to say: “I am helping you.” Any extra moment of doubt, of uncertainty, of desperation, may cause the one in need unnecessary stress or pain--since he will not know for certain that you are helping him. Chazal (Ta’anis 21A) record this in stark terms in bringing the ma’aseh of Nochum Ish Gamzu, who told the poor person to “wait until I unload the donkey”--but the poor person was unable to wait any longer, and expired. Nochum Ish Gamzu then accepted upon himself suffering as an atonement for what had occurred. Let us take the lesson! When approached by one in need--especially when one knows that he can and will help at least in some way--remember the two words of Rivka--”Shesei Adoni”--I am helping you! For Rivka, this resulted not only in the great Chesed to herself of marrying Yitzchak--but in the building of all of K’lal Yisrael! Similar results are available…for all of her descendants as well!



Special Note Three:  Our annual Mincha Reminder: Chazal (Brachos 26B) learn from this week’s Parasha that Yitzchak Avinu instituted Tefillas Mincha.  Reminder! In Praying With Fire II, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, brings the powerful teaching of the Rashba (Shailos U’Teshuvos HaRashba 5:1):  Just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon (most auspicious period for Heavenly Grace) of each year, so too is our daily davening of tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of each day.  Eliyahu HaNavi actually waited until Mincha time to pleadfully exclaim “Aneini Hashem Aneini--O’ answer me Hashem, O’ answer me!”  Chazal therefore teach that we should be ever-so-careful with Mincha--for although we are in the middle of the day’s activities, and people, places and events swerve around us--a Kavannah-laden Tefillah can soar to unparalleled heights at this most efficacious time of the day.  Let us focus--for we have an Aseres Yemei Teshuva-like opportunity every day-and do not have to wait ten months to attain it! 


Additional Notes on Tefillas Mincha: 


1.  One is required to wash his hands before each Tefillah.  If one is in a situation where it is impossible to wash his hands before Mincha, he should at least clean them with a cloth or other midi demenaki--’item that cleans’.


2.  If possible, one should try to give Tzedakah before Mincha. 


3.  One should attempt to arrive in Shul to daven Mincha in plenty of time before it begins, so that he can sit down and recite Ashrei without the feeling that he is ‘chapping a Mincha’.  If one did come late to Mincha and finds the Tzibbur already davening Shemone Esrei, he should immediately begin reciting Shemone Esrei without first reciting Ashrei.  After davening he can then recite Chapter 145 of Tehillim as a regular Kepitel. 


4.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, writes that when one does not think about his business affairs on Shabbos, he is demonstrating his Emunah that all of his Parnassah really comes from Hashem--and it is not one’s personal powers and strengths that give him his livelihood.  Likewise, he continues, when one davens Mincha with Kavannah in the middle of a busy work day or in the middle of a busy day at home--he/she is affirmatively demonstrating that all of life is b’yad Hashem--and that Hashleich Al Hashem Yehavecha VeHu Yechalkelecha--cast upon Hashem your burden and He will sustain you”  (Tehillim 55:23).


5.  After davening Mincha, it is a wonderful idea to spend an extra few moments learning a Mishna, a Halacha, a Pasuk with Rashi, or reciting a Chapter of Tehillim slowly--so that one takes the elevated moment and continues to remain elevated for a few moments longer!




20 Marcheshvan

TROUBLED TIMES: In these very difficult times in Eretz Yisrael, where the mad and sadistic Arab attacks appear “unstoppable”--we, as Torah Jews, know that each and every one of these actions can be stopped, can be reversed--and, in fact, need not occur at all. It is up to us--our Tefillos and our actions--that is what Hashem is looking for, that is what Hashem is expecting. A Middah K’negged Middah in this area would clearly be our own personal pursuit of peace in everyday life. As the Chofetz Chaim writes: “What is Redifas Shalom--running after peace? It is speaking words of calmness and conciliation during a time of dispute or disagreement…and it is giving up of one’s time, and even of one’s business, in order to bring peace between a husband and wife, a man and his friend, and a teacher and his student.” Let us work seriously on our Tefillos--with a special Kavannah when asking Hashem for Rachamim, and let us work on sincerely pursuing peace--and may we see the Yeshuos that we so very much desire and that we so very much need!





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


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




Special Note One: Before we take leave of last week’s Parasha:


A.  In the beginning of last week’s Parasha, we find that Avrohom Avinu exerted extra special efforts to fulfill the mitzvah of Hachnossas Orchim even when in the epitome of his own pain.  Perhaps there is a not-so-subtle lesson here.  When a person is experiencing pain, he should not only look inward to himself, feeling sorry for himself and in need of tender loving care--but also using the moment in some way to appreciate the pain of another, and perhaps in at least some small way to help someone else out who is concomitantly undergoing a painful experience, or has a need of some kind as well.  Thus, even at a time when one looks inward--he is using the moment as a sublime moment of growth--never forgetting the world around him that he is very much a part of as well!


B.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, asks why it pained Avrohom Avinu so greatly that he had no guests and that he could not fulfill the Mitzvah of Hachnossas Orchim.  Why should there be anything to be mitzta’er about--if there are no guests, there is simply no chiyuv, no obligation?!  After all, would one be pained if it is not Pesach and he has no Matzah?! HaRav Moshe explains that Avrohom Avinu had such a love for Chesed, such a desire to do the Mitzvah, that he still longed for it even if it was actually not there for him to do--just like a person on a low level who desires a piece of Boston cream pie cannot rest--even if he has to travel several miles--in order to satisfy the physical desire.  Moreover, HaRav Moshe adds, Avrohom Avinu wanted to fulfill the Mitzvah especially when he was sick and suffering--because the yisurin he would feel for the sake of the Mitzvah would be precious and cherished by him. 


C.  There are two Machnisei Orchim mentioned in the Parasha--Avrohom and Lot.  In comparing the two acts of Hachnossas Orchim, a person may think that the act of Lot was much greater because the Mesiras Nefesh of Lot was seemingly outstanding--knowingly putting his life and the life of his family in danger by bringing guests into his home in the face of the people of Sedom.  Nevertheless, we see from the Torah’s detail of Avrohom’s Chesed, and how Chazal learn and derive lessons from it, that Avrohom’s Chesed was oh so much greater.  Why?  What made Avrohom Avinu’s Chesed more elevated?  It is said in the name of the Bais HaLevi that Lot was doing Hachnossas Orchim to angels--and he knew it.  Even with Mesiras Nefesh--this cannot compare to the Hachnossas Orchim that Avrohom Avinu showed to simple wayfarers--even if it was without risking his life to do so. 


Remember--this is the way of Avrohom Avinu, this is our legacy! 


D.  One additional note:  Chazal (Shabbos 127A) teach that Hachnosas Orchim is greater than Kabalas P’nei HaShechinah--as we see that Avrohom Avinu interrupted his speaking to Hashem in order to greet the strangers. Chazal do not sayGadol Hachnossas Orei’ach YoserMiKabalas Pinei HaShechinah--that it is greater to bring in one guest than to greet the Shechinah--rather, it is Hachnosas Orchim--in the plural--the bringing in guests as a way of life that it greater.  When one has established Chesed as his way of living, as a life goal and a life love; when one has established his life as an open heart to others--than that is greater than the one time greeting of the Shechinah.  One can and should by no means take the greeting of the Shechina lightly.  However, when it is for the purpose of actually fulfilling what Hashem wants from him in life--a life role and goal of giving--then one can and should interrupt everything else--including greeting the Shechinah itself--to fulfill it! 



Special Note Two: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.




We mentioned one reason why most people nowadays are not obligated to write a Sefer Torah. We will now mention two more reasons for this.


1)      Uncertainty regarding the Spelling of Certain Words.


A Sefer Torah is comprised of over three hundred thousand letters. The Gemara tells us that although our tradition accounts for every single word in the Torah, we are no longer expert in the spelling of every single word. This stems from the fact that many words can be spelled with or without full vocalization – i.e., with or without a vav or yud. For instance, in the Sefer Torah, the word אותם is sometimes spelled with a vav and sometimes without, אתם. Over time, doubts developed about the correct spelling in a few instances.


If someone writes a Sefer Torah which has even one misspelled word, he has not fulfilled the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah. Consequently, says the Sha’agas Aryeh, since we don’t know for sure the proper spelling of every single word (even though we do have a specific tradition which we follow), we are presently unable to fulfill the mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah with certainty. Therefore, until we do know the proper spelling of every single word, the mitzvah is not in force.


2)      Halachic Limitations on the Financial Obligation.


If a person finds himself in the dangerous position where he would be transgressing a Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh, and can avoid it by paying money, he is obligated to give away all of his money in order not to transgress. For instance, the Chofetz Chaim says that if one’s boss wants to obtain information from him which is lashon hara (obviously in a situation where there is no heter to convey the information) and will fire him if he won’t tell, he is obligated to risk being fired rather than transgress the Torah prohibition against speaking lashon hara.


To fulfill a Mitzvas Asei, on the other hand, one need not spend more than twenty percent of one’s available resources. For instance, if one has $50,000, and a Sefer Torah costs $30,000, he is released from the obligation to write a Sefer Torah because he is not obligated to spend more than $10,000 on any mitzvah! For this reason, one may have no obligation to write a Sefer Torah.




19 Marcheshvan

THE BA’AL CHESED: Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, teaches that it is important not only to do Chesed but to become a Ba’al Chessed.  A Ba’al Chessed is not necessarily someone who has money at all, but who is someone who sees the need and acts upon it.  For instance, he not only says “Assusa”, “Gezhuntheit”, etc. when someone sneezes--but also pushes the box of tissues closer to the one who sneezed.  In order to train his young children in this area, Rabbi Weiss made a point of giving them extra snacks or drinks for school and told them to give it privately to someone else who did not bring snack that day.  We can apply this extremely significant Middah in many ways--in the most extraordinary and most ordinary of situations!




Special Note One:  The twentieth letter of the Chofetz Chaim in the Michtevei Chofetz Chaim is entitled Ma’amar Chizuk HaEmunah.  For those who have the Michtevei Chofetz Chaim, we urge that you read the letter inside.  For those who do not, the Chofetz Chaim provides the following moving teaching:


At the outset of Parashas Vayeirah, the Torah describes in detail for us how the Malach came to advise Avrohom Avinu and Sarah Imeinu that they would have a child in the near future. The Torah then describes Sarah Imeinu’s reaction--how could it be that a couple of this age could have a child?! The Torah then further describes how Hashem came to Avrohom and advised Avrohom that Sarah Imeinu expressed some kind of doubt--and that nothing, of course, was beyond Hashem. The Torah then goes on further to relate that when Avrohom inquired of Sarah as to her reaction to the news, she denied a lack of Emunah, explaining that the words came out of her mouth without any negative intent. The Torah does not stop, and relates that Avrohom told her--no, something was lacking in her Emunah.


The Chofetz Chaim finds this tremendous detail difficult--as every word in the Torah is so highly weighed, and is invaluable, with not even a point of a letter being extra. What, then, is the Torah teaching with the great description of this event, and by mentioning that Sarah Imeinu had doubts?! The Chofetz Chaim concludes that there is a great lesson provided to us in the Torah here, and that “He’ir Hashem Einai--Hashem enlightened him”, in order to understand the lesson: Chazal teach that “Ma’aseh Avos Siman L’vanim”--and over time we have found that everything that happened to the Avos happened to us. The Torah’s description of the dialogues between the Malach, Avrohom Avinu, Sarah Imeinu and HaKadosh Baruch Hu alludes to the times of the Ikvesah D’Moshicha, the time preceding when Hashem’s Kavod will be revealed to the world. At that [our] time, there will certainly be Gedolei Yisrael who will urge the people to strengthen themselves in Emunah and do Teshuvah so that we can be redeemed. They will urge us to strengthen ourselves in Torah and Ma’asim Tovim so that the Moshiach will come. However, there will be people at the time who will not believe the Gedolim who urge us to do Teshuvah, and will say: “Is it really possible that this long and bitter Galus will end now, in our lifetimes, at this time?”; “How can it be that in the midst of these times the Geulah will suddenly come?” They will, accordingly, go about their everyday business and through their conduct demonstrate to others to do so as well. Hashem will be upset and exclaim: “HaYipaleih MeiHashem Davar--why are you doubting that Hashem will not bring the Geulah in the here and now?!” The people will respond that they do have Emunah, and that they do know that the Geulah is possible--but it could still be years off. What they should, however, realize is that each and every day the Geulah is possible--and they should very literally believe that it can happen each and every day. This means that when we don’t take active, real preparations for the Moshiach, our Emunah is flawed--and that anything that we say about the Moshiach is lip service--or at least not heartfelt. This is the response to Sarah Imeinu of “Lo, Ki Tzachakt--no, you doubted.”


Now, let us look around us--the tzaros in the world, the ruchniyus of K’lal Yisrael so badly suffering--from the uneducated majority of our people--through the teens-at-risk. We can most certainly rationalize a level of flawed Emunah--how could the Geulah come in our lowly state--can the Geulah really come now?! It can, and will--through Teshuvah Sheleimah, Torah and Ma’asim Tovim. We must do what we can in order to greet the Moshiach B’Simcha--one who prepares for his coming each and every day--one who acts B’Emunah Sheleimah will bask in and reap all of the benefits--BeKarov BeMeheirah V’Yameinu!



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


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


We once again provide our annual Parashas Chayei Sarah Appeal:


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


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


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


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


Additional Note:  If one would redt a Shidduch for a Ger or a Giores, then in addition to the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha, he/she would also fulfill the Mitzvah of Vehavtem Es HaGer--demonstrating special affection for one who went through so much to become a Torah Jew.


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



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

Hakhel Note:  This demonstration of Bain Odom LeChaveiro, then, directly branches to Bain Odom LaMakom--and produces huge gains--Bain Odom LeAtzmo!




18 Marcheshvan

INTRODUCING A NEW HAKHEL PROGRAM--’The Five Minutes for Yourself Action Project’.  Throughout the day we are beset by so many requirements and requests—whether at home, in the office, or elsewhere, it does not appear that we have the five minutes a day that we need to think about how we can fix or solve the  issues or items in which the same mistakes, or repeated need-to-fix, below par, or mediocre performances, occur daily.  Now, during a five minute segment of the day of your own choosing (it may be while eating breakfast, while walking towards the bus, or when especially sitting on the couch for this five minute project), you can figure out how to better yourself in just minutes a day.  What can I do the night before to make my wake- up process easier?  What can I do to make better brachos—after all, I am reciting them anyway, I believe in them…?  How can I stop myself when I realize that I am getting angry, or from making the sharp comments that I make when I am tired?  In what way will I reward myself if I learn something I have been meaning to get to, but have not found the time?  What’s missing on my block or in my neighborhood that can easily be rectified?  What’s missing in my life that is within my capability to fix? Who do I really owe a phone call to?  What Halacha/Shaila keeps coming up that I keep on forgetting to ask the Rav about?  You can take it from here--the point is that a person should not allow a day to go by in which he did not take some time to catch up with--and elevate – himself.



A BRACHA AFORETHOUGHT: In his approbation to the Sefer V’Zos HaBracha [one of the most popular Seforim on Hilchos Brachos in Eretz Yisrael, by Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita], HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, writes that when reciting a Bracha, aside from the necessary Kavanos when reciting the words, one must be sure to think that he is not a ‘Kafoi Tova’--a denier of the good and instead, that he is a ‘Makir Tova’--that he recognizes the good that Hashem is bestowing/has bestowed upon him and that he is expressing it with this Bracha.  Hakhel Note:  What a great way to focus prior to making any Bracha!





A. “The Torah relates that after the destruction of Sodom v’Amora, “Vayisa Mishom Avrohom,” and Avrohom departed from there.    Rashi gives two reasons for Avrohom’s departure.  The second reason was to distance himself from the disreputable and incestuous Lot.  But the first - and presumably primary reason was that ‘he saw that the cities had been destroyed, and that the the passersby had ceased’.  Avrohom could not live in a place devoid of Kiruv opportunities!”


B. “Regarding your point of the malach asking Avrohom where his wife was in order to be Lechaveva al Ba’alah, I just wanted to add a beautiful vort I heard from HaRav Feivelson (of Nachlas Naftoli, in Tzfas): Rav Feivelson asked that we see throughout the Parasha that a malach can only do one shelichus. In that case, how was this malach, who came for a different shelichus, able to do the shelichus of Lechaveva al Ba’alah? Rav Feivelson answered that the concept of saying something nice to a person so that it brings him closer to his wife (Lechaveva al Ba’alah) is not a ‘shelichus’. That is how one talks!




Special Note One: The following meaningful events are excerpted from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, as presented in last week’s Parasha:


1. A student of the Slobodka Yeshiva was walking down the street, carrying an uncovered plate of food to a fellow student who was ill. When he noticed Rabbi Isaac Sher, the Rosh Hayeshiva, coming, he felt embarrassed and tried to hide the plate under his jacket. He thought that the Rosh Hayeshiva would consider it beneath the student’s dignity to carry an uncovered plate of food in the street. Perceiving his student’s plight, Rabbi Sher called out, “You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Carrying food to an ill person is similar to carrying a lulav and esrog, which everyone carries in the street during Sukkos!” (Marbitzai Torah Umussar, vol. 2, p. 258-9)


2. One Rosh Hashanah, the Chazon Ish gave two unusual orders: not to hold the usual recess between Shacharis and the blowing of the shofar, and that the shofar be blown without previously reciting Lamenatzaiach Livnai Korach Mizmor seven times, as is the common practice. The people in Shul were all puzzled by the Chazon Ishs requests. Soon afterwards, they discovered the reason for the unconventional procedure. The Chazon Ish had heard a son say to his father, “Papa, you have a weak heart. Please eat something.” But the father refused, saying that it was his custom not to eat before he heard the shofar. The Chazon Ish wanted to enable the man with the weak heart to eat as soon as possible, and therefore he shortened the davening. (Biography of Chazon Ish, p. 113) Hakhel Note: The Minhag HaG’ra is not to recite Lamenatzaiach in any event.


3. In the European town of Pressnitz, there lived a wealthy man named Reb Hirsch Yervitz, brother-in-law of the Chasam Sofer. He would invite to his home all the poor travelers who were in that city for Shabbos. These needy people were always placed to the left and right of Reb Hirsch, who sat at the head of the table. A new maid was once hired at the Yervitz household. Unaware of Reb Hirsch’s custom, she set places for the poor at the far end of the Shabbos table. Arriving home from Shul with his guests, he was momentarily disturbed at the seating arrangements. Not wishing to embarrass either the maid or his guests, he quickly picked up his becher, challos, and setting, and put them at the end of the table, making the end of the table the head. (The Story of the Chasam Sofer, p. 31-2)


4. Rabbi Chayim Soloveitchik of Brisk had a warm and generous heart, and people who were troubled often turned to him as a source of comfort. Once, a mentally unbalanced man came to speak to Rav Chayim. The man took offense at something Rav Chayim said, and immediately left his house in anger. Minutes later, Rabbi Yecheskel Abramsky entered Rav Chayim’s house, and found him very worried and sweating profusely. “What happened?” asked Rabbi Abramsky with alarm:”I offended a person who is not able to forgive me” replied Rav Chayim. (Dmuyos Hod, vol. 2, p. 82-3)



Special Note Two: If one delves a bit deeper into the Parashios describing the great Midos and conduct of Avrohom Avinu, he may have a perplexing question: On the one hand, Avrohom Avinu suspects Paroh, Avimelech, and Efron of dishonesty, and at least in the cases of Paroh and Avimelech, possible retzicha and ni’uf. Yet, on the other hand, Avrohom Avinu greets and treats royally people who appear to be idol-worshipping Arabs, davens for the wicked people of Sedom to be saved, makes a pact with Avimelech even after what Avimelech had done, and sets up an Aishel in Be’er Sheva to give free food, drink and lodging to nomadic and other wayfarers. Does not this behavior seem contradictory--on the one hand, understanding the evil ways of the people around him, and dealing with them appropriately, without flattery and without compromise--and on the other hand, treating people so different from him with great respect, dignity and kindness? HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, explains that this is truly not contradictory behavior at all. Avrohom Avinu understood that man has within him both tov and rah. Avrohom was not born a Malach--he too worked to restrain and overcome the evil within him. It is for this reason--from his own personal experience--that he believed in people. Yes--bad can go very far--but within the very same person, the good can overcome it and change the die-hard Rasha into a true Tzaddik. It is our duty, Avrohom Avinu realized--not only to help ourselves conquer the evil within us and replace it with good--but to help others--who have that very same potential, as well! Everyone can ask himself--’when will my deeds reach the deeds of my forefathers?’...and everyone is capable of answering the question--successfully!



Special Note Three: The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, over the course of any given weekday was advised of a tremendous amount of problems and tzaros that people from all over the world faced.  He also must have undoubtedly had his own personal and family challenges in life as well.  How, then, could he have had the Yishuv Ha’Daas--the presence of mind and the clarity of thought-- to produce such great works as the Kehillas Yaakov and his other seforim?  This may be the answer:  He once remarked that when it came time for him to learn, he put all else out of his mind and concentrated entirely on the Torah in front of him.  This is an immense and meaningful lesson for us.  While we may be unable to produce Seforim like the Steipeler, we too can make the effort to focus when we are studying--to the exclusion of all else.  With problems out of mind, without letting the mind wander, without responding to buzzing or vibrations, or even to phone calls (unless they are really, truly, absolutely necessary), one will be demonstrating that he too has or wants to have the attitude and approach, the respect and reverence, for the study of Torah that the Gedolei Hador know is necessary to succeed. 


Additional Notes:


1.                  HaRav Avrohom Yaffen, Z’tl was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Navordok and the author of the Sefer Derech Aison and other works, and was constantly sought after for advice and guidance --with lines of people coming to see him. Once while in Bialystok , his son-in-law, HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, z’tl, asked him how he ever had a chance to learn if he was constantly besieged by others seeking Brachos and counsel.  He responded that he studied in the five minute intervals between one person and another.  “For if a person cannot focus and concentrate in the five minutes that he has, than he cannot do it in the five hours that he has either….”


2.                  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita notes that the word ‘Aish’ in ‘Aish HaTorah’ is an acronym for Ahava and Simcha--love and joy--for if a person truly learns with love and joy--with true appreciation of the opportunity--his Torah study will be not only a spark --but a flame of Kedusha to light and warm a world of darkness.




17 Marcheshvan

IMPORTANT NEW WEBSITE! Neshamos.org provides a very special remembrance of the approximately 1 million children murdered in the Holocaust. The site provides a very special Mishna campaign--with the goal of learning 1 million Mishnayos and other resources.



A GREAT INSTRUCTION IN BIKUR CHOLIM: Chazal (Pesachim 118B) teach us that when Rebbi Yishmoel B’ R’ Yossi was ill, Rebbi Yehudah HaNossi asked of him to relate “two or three teachings in the name of your father.” At first glance, one would think that Rebbi asked for these teachings, so that if c’v Rebbi Yishmoel would leave this world because of the illness, the teachings would be left behind and known. However, we may suggest that the reason Rebbi asked Rebbi Yishmoel for these teachings when he was ill was to help heal him. As we know, the Torah teaches that the reward for honoring one’s parents is Arichus Yomim--length of days. By Rebbi Yishmoel relating teachings in the name of his father, he was fulfilling the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av--and could therefore be zoche to Arichus Yomim--being healed from his illness--and having length of days! The lesson to us would be that if and when possible, cause the person who is ill to perform the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av VaEim--and hopefully the Arichus Yomim will come!



GREATER THAN A MALACH! In last week’s Parasha we learned that one Malach does not perform more than one task. Every day--we should regale in the many Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim that we are given the opportunity to perform! We--human beings--have so many more and different opportunities than the Malochim! Thank You, Hashem!



SHALOM BAYIS! Rashi teaches that the Malach inquired of Avraham as to where Sara Imeinu was so that Avraham would realize and respond that she was inside--in the tent: “Kedei Lechavevah Ahl Ba’alah--which would cause Avraham to cherish Sara Imeinu for her tzniyus.” This is a great lesson for us--no matter what the age of spouses--Hava’as Shalom Bein Ish LeIshto, bringing peace between husband and wife--should be a great goal of everyone! 



51 NOT 52: Rashi teaches that the fifth city that was to be destroyed together with Sedom, Amora, Adma and Tzevoyim was the city of Tzo’ar . It was not destroyed in the end because it was one year newer than the other four, and accordingly it was ruled innocent--just one year can be the difference between total destruction and total salvation! Indeed, we find Tzo’ar mentioned again in Parashas Vezos HaBeracha (Devorim 34:3)--as a city that Moshe Rabbeinu was shown as part and parcel of Eretz Yisrael! Our actions this year--just this one year--can bring about our salvation. Let us do our utmost to make it happen!




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



Special Note Two:  As we contemplate Avrohom Avinu’s acts of Chesed in Parashas Vayeirah, we provide the following notes:


1.                  Here is a good thought to keep in mind: “Zechus Kadima La’asos Tova L’mi She’asa Imcha Ra’ah”--one should try to make it a priority to do Chesed to those who have not performed Chesed with you--and to the contrary may have even hurt you.  You are thereby raising the bar with none other than yourself!


2.                   The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes that when Dovid HaMelech writes that “Olam Chesed Yiboneh--the world is built on Chesed” (Tehillim 89:23)--it does not mean that one must perform incredible feats, or spend excessive amounts.  Rather, the Pele Yoetz advises, that one also performs a Mitzvah De’oraysa when opening the door for one who is knocking, making change for someone, or simply extending a hand when needed.  One’s thought and focus simply has to be in the right place.


3.                  The following story was related to us by one of our readers (a Rav).  He had the honor of driving HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita from Philadelphia to another city to give a Shiur.  When stopping off for gas along the way, the driver asked the gas station attendant to check the oil.  It was pouring rain.  The attendant, who could hardly speak English, lifted the hood and motioned that he would need a minute to do something else first.  Upon hearing this, the driver told HaRav Kamenetsky that he was going to move the car underneath the station overhang, so that the exposed engine and wires would not get wet.  HaRav Kamenetsky immediately turned to him and said “No, no…you should move the car under the overhang so that the attendant does not get wet!”


4.                  As we have noted in the past, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, z’tl would urge people to perform a private Chesed--i.e., a Chesed that others did not know about--every day.  


5.                  The Chofetz Chaim in his Sefer Ahavas Chesed writes that one must love Chesed (as in the name of his Sefer), and not act out of a feeling of pressure (that person is so desperate for my help, how could I say no) or because he is required to do so.  If one loves Chesed, the Chofetz Chaim writes, he will search for ways and means to do good to his fellow man on his own, just as a father seeks to help his son even if he has not been asked for it.  Moreover, when a person feels a love for this mitzvah, he will motivate, encourage, inspire and arouse others to become engaged in similar and even different acts of Chesed as well.



Special Note Three: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.






Who is obligated to write a Sefer Torah?



In principle, any adult Jewish male has a Torah obligation to write a Sefer Torah. If one is unable to actually write one, he must pay a sofer to write one for him. There is a machlokes about whether one fulfills his obligation when purchasing a second-hand or fully completed Sefer Torah.




In that case, why doesn’t every Jewish man write (or have written for him) a Sefer Torah? After all, we all eat matzah and affix mezuzos. Why should writing a Sefer Torah be different?



There are a number of leniencies mentioned by the poskim upon which most people rely:


1)                  Changes in the use of Sifrei Torah.

After mentioning the mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah, the Rosh (Rabbeinu Asher, 12501328) writes: “That was in earlier generations when they would write Sifrei Torah and learn from them. Nowadays, however, when we write Sifrei Torah and leave them in shul to be read in public, there is a positive commandment on every Jewish male who can afford it, to own Torah, Mishnah, Talmud, and their commentaries – to delve into, he and his sons. Through the Talmud and its commentaries, he will understand the mitzvos and the laws completely. Therefore, [today] these are the sefarim which a man is commanded to write.” Consequently, according to the Rosh, one who acquires a Shas and learns from it, thereby coming to a complete understanding of the mitzvos, has fulfilled his mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah.


Most poskim, however, disagree with the Rosh, maintaining that this mitzvah did not get transformed with changing circumstances. Some say that even according to the Rosh, the mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah obviously still applies; the Rosh only meant to add other sefarim to the mitzvah as well.


In our next discussion we will explain two other reasons why most people nowadays are not obligated to make great efforts to fulfill this mitzva.




14 Marcheshvan



1. In last week’s Parasha, Hashem already advised Avraham Avinu that Sara Imeinu would give birth to a son and that his name would be Yitzchak (Bereishis 17:19). Why, then, did a Malach have to come at the outset of this week’s Parasha to advise him that Sara Imeinu would be having a child?


2. What were the names of the three sister cities to Sedom and Amora? Were they all, in fact, destroyed? See Bereishis 19:20, 21 and Rashi there, and Devarim 29: 22.


3. In the Parasha, we see how Avraham Avinu so sincerely pleads for the people of Sedom, but does not go below the minimum number of 10 [9 people together with Hashem]--because, as Rashi (Bereishis 18:32) explains, if Noach and his immediate family were 8 people and could not save their generation, then a city could not be saved without the minimum number of tzaddikim as well. However--Noach and his children were, in fact, saved! If so, why did Avraham Avinu not plead for Lot and his family?!


4. As they were traveling to what would be Akeidas Yitzchak, Yitzchak Avinu noted that there was no sheep to be used for the Korban that Avraham Avinu was intending to bring. Yitzchak then asked VeAyeih HaSeh L’Olah--where is the sheep that will be used? Why did Yitzchak Avinu ask this question--what was his intent--it certainly was not curiosity?!




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


A. Important Shabbos Halachos:


1. The Pasuk in Yeshaya relating to Shabbos teaches “Vechibadeto”--and you shall honor it (Yeshaya 58:13). The Sefer Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) explains that Shabbos can be honored in many different ways, and that the rule is: Any deed that evidences the chashivus of Shabbos is part of Kavod Shabbos. One should think about what one would do for an important person to whom he wanted to demonstrate honor-and do it for Shabbos. After all, if Hashem is providing us with the unique and inestimable privilege of Shabbos (an akum who observes Shabbos is chayav misah), we should give Shabbos the proper honor.  Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita reports that as a newly married man, he spent Shabbos with HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl. As he was eating the fish, HaRav Miller asked him what he was thinking.  It was clear that HaRav Miller was not expecting: “Good fish!” as his response. After a moment, HaRav Miller told him--you should be thinking” I am royalty--Hashem has given me Shabbos!”


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


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

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


B. We provide the following Halachos relating to hotza’ah--carrying on Shabbos:


1.  Where there is no Eruv, one may walk outside with the use of a cane or other support only in limited circumstances. If a person can walk inside his house without a cane, but requires a cane to lean on and support himself when he walks outside--it would nevertheless not be permitted for the person to use the cane outside--as the determining factor is how he walks in the house. If a person cannot walk at all without the cane, then it would be permissible to walk with it outside (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 301, Mishna Berurah seif katan 64).


2. A special circumstance: If one is walking on a slippery slope, or in an icy area, where he is worried that he will fall, there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether a person can be deemed to be a chiger who would be entitled to use a cane (Ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 65).


3. If one has a decorative or royal walking stick which is not needed for walking, one cannot take it outside. Even within the Eruv, one should only use it if it is truly a sign of honor, or there is some minimal need, but carrying it out without purpose would be a zilusa d’Shabbos and be prohibited (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 66).


4. If a price tag or a cleaner’s tag is attached to a garment, the Minchas Yitzchak writes that he would have otherwise permitted one to walk outside with it if he had no other garment, as it would be deemed batel to the beged; however, since he heard that HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, prohibited it, he did not want to permit it. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, however, permits it. HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, writes that it is dependent upon where the tag is--if it is on the outside where a person will clearly take it off after Shabbos, then it is not batel and it is prohibited to walk out with it. The Rivevos Ephraim brings in the name of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, that Lechatechila one should have removed these kinds of tags before Shabbos, but if one did not do so, one may go out with it on Shabbos (SA OC 301, Dirshu Note 67).


5. There is a Machlokes Haposkim as to whether one may go out on Shabbos with a bite plate or retainer (ibid., Dirshu Note 68).


6. One may walk outside with an untied shoe, as the shoelace is considered part of the shoe (ibid., Dirshu Note 91). Hakhel Note: However, one should tie it--for safety reasons!



Special Note Two: Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Veyeirah:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Three: In this week’s Parasha, we find a special emphasis on Hachnosas Orchim, the Mitzvah of Hospitality.  We provide below important excerpts on this fundamental Mitzvah from the monumental work Journey to Virtue, by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll): 


1.  Chazal extolled the Mitzvah of Hospitality as follows:


Extending hospitality to wayfarers is greater even than receiving the Shechina, as we see from Avraham Avinu who interrupted his conversation with Hashem and ran after three passersby, begging them to accept his hospitality. (Bereishis 18:3)


Sarah Imeinu (see Bereishis 18:1-14) and the Shunamis (see Melachim II 4:8-17), both childless, were rewarded with children because of this Mitzvah.


2. Even though there is a Mitzvah to extend hospitality to both the rich and the poor, receiving poor guests is more important since it includes the Mitzvah of Tzedakah as well.


When one feeds a poor person, he is considered as having brought an offering on the Mizbe’ach. If his guest is a poor Torah scholar, he is considered as having brought the daily Tamid offering.


3.  The Mitzvah of extending hospitality to guests applies even when the host is ill.  He should still expend as much effort as he can to see to his guests’ needs, just as Avraham exerted himself on behalf of his guests even though he was ill, recovering from the Bris Milah at an advanced age.  Similarly, one should educate his children to distinguish themselves in this Mitzvah, as Avraham did with Yishmael.


4.  Avraham ran after wayfarers to invite them in.  One should seek out guests and treat them with great warmth, as if each one were a wealthy person from whom one stands to realize a great profit. 


5.  Avraham said,Take water and wash your feet.”  When guests arrive one should immediately allow them to wash if they need to.  For this reason one should make sure that his facilities are kept clean and attractive for their use.


6.  Avraham said, “And they should rest under the tree.”  When guests arrive, one should offer them an opportunity to rest from the exertions of their journey.  However, if they do not need to rest, they should be served a meal immediately, in case they are hungry and too embarrassed to ask to eat.


7.  Avraham said, “I will bring just a loaf of bread ... and shortly after you will be on your way.”  If one sees that his guests wish to remain only a short while and then continue on their way, he should suggest that they eat only a small amount rather than delay them with a full meal.


8.  At the same time, guests often decline offers of food out of politeness or embarrassment, but when a meal is placed in front of them they are actually quite happy to eat.  Avraham, in fact, served an entire meal with delicacies. (Righteous people say little and perform a great deal.) Nonetheless, if the guests genuinely do not want to eat, they should certainly not be pressed to do so; the only consideration should be fulfilling the guests’ needs and wishes.


9.  A host should not consider it beneath his dignity to personally serve his guests.


10.  Guests should receive cheerful treatment and not be burdened with any of the host’s worries or concerns.  Mr. Schwartz, while serving his guests a lavish meal, related how his business was failing and he would have to declare bankruptcy. The guests did not feel very comfortable.  Even if the host is not a wealthy person, he should act as if he were and not make his guests feel as if they are an imposition, or lower their spirits in any other way. On the contrary, a host should always attempt to boost his guests’ spirits and try to convey an impression of regret that he cannot provide for them more lavishly, in order to give them a sense of importance.


11. The host should serve his guests generous portions and not watch them closely or in any way make them self-conscious about how much they are eating. For the same reason, he should slice the bread and serve the other foods himself, since if they had to help themselves they might feel too embarrassed to take as much as they really want and thus go hungry.


12.  Guests should be given the best beds available, since the more comfortable one’s bed, the better one rests.


13.  Once a guest has eaten and drank and is ready to leave, the host is obligated to escort him on his way.  The reward for escort is greater than all [other Mitzvos of kindness]).  Avraham Avinu instituted the Mitzvah of escort, for after his guests ate and drank he escorted them on their way. The Mitzvah of hospitality is greater than receiving the Divine Presence, and escort is greater than hospitality.


14.  The basic Mitzvah of providing an escort involves walking minimally four amos [from the host’s property] with a guest and, if needed, giving him directions to his destination. If one honors the guest by escorting him further, that is an additional mitzvah. Conversely, if one is unable to provide an escort, but does give directions, that too is a mitzvah. When one finally parts from a guest, one should part with words of Torah.


15.  Each of the four activities involved in receiving guests--providing food, drink, lodging, and escort, is an independent Mitzvah. The Mitzvah of escorting applies not only to guests, but to anyone else as well. This Mitzvah can be fulfilled simply by giving a stranger directions, and all the more so by walking with him the distance of four amos.  In all these cases, the reward for the Mitzvah is limitless! (Sotah 46B)


Hakhel Note:  What significant lessons!  The Sefer Journey to Virtue provides invaluable Torah guidance in so many areas--it should be a treasured Sefer in every home.



Special Note Four: Shabbos is the Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish whose Tefillah for one to recite on behalf of his son we have provided by link above, and whose profound impact on our generation, especially in Eretz Yisrael continues to echo around the world.  The following thoughts of the Chazon Ish are excerpted from Divrei Siach, a beautiful compilation by Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshtaff, Shlita:


A. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, reports that the Chazon Ish told him that when we say that the world exists because Torah is being studied every minute somewhere--it also includes the sleep of Talmidei Chachomim and Lomdei Torah who do so in order to be able to continue to learn!


B. The Chazon Ish told people who asked him whether they should move to Bnei Brak not to do so--because he wanted there to be Yiddishkeit everywhere!


C. HaRav Gershon Edelstein, Shlita, reports that the Chazon Ish told him that one should be makpid to eat bread at Melaveh Malka--and not be Yotzei with Mezonos.


D. In instructing bachurim, the Chazon Ish would advise them to learn over a sugyah more quickly before studying it be’iyun. After completing a perek, he recommended reviewing it seven times, without Rashi or Tosfos. He said that if one initially learned the Perek with Rashi and Tosfos and then reviewed it this way seven times, he would remember the Rashi and Tosfos as well!


E. The Chazon Ish ruled that when davening for one who is ill, if one does not know the name of his mother, he can use the name of the father, and if one does not know the father’s name, he can use the name of the city.


The following thoughts of the Chazon Ish are from his nephew and close student, HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, and are found at the end of Sefer Derech Sicha, Volume II:


A. The Chazon Ish advised HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, that one need not take off of a Gemara the Sefer of an Acharon that was placed on top of it--but that one may not place his elbows on a Sefer!


B.  A Talmud Chochom did not want to engage in a Yissocher/Zevulan relationship in order not to lose reward from his Torah learning.  The Chazon Ish told him to do the will of Hashem, and not do something for the sake of reward. 


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


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


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


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


G.  He ruled that if one received a Gemach loan from a Gemach, he should not give additional money as a donation for this is Ribbus D’Oraisah. 


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


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


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


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



Special Note Five:  This Sunday, 16 Marcheshvan is the Twelfth Yahrzeit of HaRav Schach, Z’tl (HaRav Elazar Menachem Mann B’R’ Ezriel).  It is well known that Rav Schach wrote in his Tzava’a that anyone who learned from him, any of his ‘talmidim’ who gained from him either in Torah, Yiras Hashem, or Midos, should do Chesed with him and learn a Mishna or a Machshava of Mussar, and that in turn, Rav Schach will do what he can to be Meiltiz Tov for those who do so. On this note, we provide the following teaching of HaRav Schach on this week’s Parasha: Chazal (Shabbos 127 A) teach that welcoming guests is greater than greeting the Shechina, as we see from Avrohom Avinu in the beginning of this week’s Parasha-- as he left his audience with Hashem in order to greet the wayfarers.  How could this be, Rav Schach asks?  After all, does not the Mesilas Yesharim teach that the whole goal of life is to come closer to the Shechina?!  Rav Schach explains that Avrohom Avinu was initially only standing in front of Hashem.  By running to greet the potential guests, he was doing better than ‘merely’ standing in front of the Shechina--for he was emulating the Shechina with his act of Chesed, thereby binding and becoming one (Kevayachol) with Hashem, rather than Hashem standing only in front of him. Hakhel Note: Of the Thirteen Attributes of Hashem that we are to emulate, two of them involve Chesed--’Rav Chesed’ and ‘Notzer Chesed’. If one would think about it from a parent-child perspective, a parent would have much greater Nachas from the child doing what the parent does--rather than the child simply being together with him in his presence! 


We also provide two famous vignettes from the Sefer Conversations on the Life of Rav Schach, compiled by HaRav Asher Bergman, Shlita:


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


2. “Rav Schach would often encourage avrechim to become involved in teaching Torah to younger students in both junior and senior yeshivos. The reason, aside from the tremendous independent value of spreading Torah knowledge, is that developing such a relationship and bond with younger students is beneficial for the older Talmud scholar himself, in that it keeps him refreshed and invigorated. Rav Schach expressed a similar thought in a different matter as well. A tragic incident occurred in which both parents of a particular family had been killed, presenting the question of what should be done with the orphans, who had suddenly become bereft of a father and a mother. The children’s grandmother was interested in taking upon herself the task of raising them, and was willing to dedicate herself to this difficult job with all her heart and soul. Deep down, however, she had doubts as to whether it was beneficial for the children to grow up their whole lives raised by an “old grandmother.” The woman approached Rav Schach for advice, and as soon as he heard about her reservations, he told her, “Whoever is in the company of young people and constantly deals with them, himself remains young! You do not have to worry about becoming an ‘old grandmother’ in such a situation!”




13 Marcheshvan

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






1. “Regarding the tragedies in Eretz Yisrael yesterday: The terrorist y’ms are ‘moser nefesh’ (habehamis). Let us be moser nefesh to do the right thing.”


 2. “On your point about acting as a Tzelem Elokim--here is my suggestion: Insert a straw into your sports bottle and drink in a mentshlich way.”


3. “I sent your quote from the G’ra in the ‘Question of the Day’ to others--at least three people gave the right answer.” Hakhel Note: If you did not know the answer, we provide the question again, and a teaching from the Chofetz Chaim which will provide the answer:


Can you identify the subject matter of the quote?  The G’ra writes: U’ma Li L’ha’arich Bazeh, Heavon Hachamur Mikal Ha’aveiros--why should I spend more time on this aveirah--which is the most severe aveirah of all!


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





1. Operating a motor vehicle when talking on a hand-held phone places your life and the lives of others into r’l mortal danger. Have pity on your life and the lives of others!


2. The chance of surviving a motor vehicle crash is five times greater if one is buckled up.


3. Buckling up everyone in the car takes less time than c’v the ambulance ride, the hospital stay, regret, therapy and r’l tragedy that could last forever. As the driver of a car, you have the same authority as the captain of a plane or ship. 


Hakhel Note: Here is one place where you must assert your authority.







1. What do you do when you are the most awake? Some believe that they are ‘morning people’, others ‘afternoon people’, and yet others, ‘late night individuals’. In whatever manner a person views himself as, ask yourself what you usually dedicate your ‘most awake’ hours for--is it Torah and Ma’asim Tovim…or something else? Conversely, is your primary Torah-study time when falling asleep after eating dinner and after taking care of matters at home…?


2. Should you ever feel bitter?  The answer is actually--yes. The Chofetz Chaim (also see Sha’arei Teshuvah 1:13 ) writes that Ikar HaTeshuvah Lefi Merirus HaLev. When doing Teshuvah--you must sincerely sense the bitterness of the sin that you committed and its continuing effect upon your being and even upon the world--until Teshuvah makes life sweet again!


3. Should you ‘go behind his back to help him’? Before doing so, ask yourself this question out-loud--and pensively--three times. If the answer is not pellucidly clear in your mind, consult with your Rav or Posek before doing so.



A POWERFUL MESSAGE: Chazal teach that the term Halelukah need not only mean Haleluh-Kah (Praise Hashem), but also Haleluhu B’Hilulim Harbeh--praise Hashem with much praise! In fact, Rebbi Yehoshuah Ben Levi teaches that of the ten languages of praise used in Tehillim--Halelukah is the greatest of them all! When reciting this magnificent term each and every day in Pesukei D’Zimra--we should feel an inspired degree of exuberance and zeal!




Special Note One:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relates that he once went to be Mevaker Choleh to his father-in-law, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, who had been ill. HaRav Elyashiv asked him--is there truly a chiyuv to travel from another city [i.e., from Bnei Brak to Yerushalayim] to perform the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim? HaRav Chaim responded that Chazal teach that when one visits a person who is sick--Goreim Lo Sheyichyeh--the visitor causes the sick person to live--and therefore, in his view, the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim applied inter-city as well!


As this week’s Parsha teaches of the primary importance of Bikur Cholim, as Hakadosh Baruch Hu visited Avraham Avinu after his bris, we provide the following additional reminders on Bikur Cholim:


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


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


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


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


5.  One should try to tidy up and make the atmosphere more cheery for the choleh, if possible.  The Gemara (Nedarim 40A) relates that Rabbi Akiva himself swept and cleaned the floor for his sick student. It is no wonder, then, that one who acts wisely with the ill, will himself be saved from ‘a bad day’ by Hashem (see Tehillim 41 and Gemara, Nedarim 40A).


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



Special Note  Two: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.





The socher asked me what size mezuzah I would like. He offered me the following range of sizes: 6 cm. (2.4 in.), 10 cm. (4 in.), 12 cm. (4.7 in.), 15 cm. (6 in.); and he even had a really expensive mezuzah that was 20 cm. (8 in.)! Is there a preferred size?




You have mentioned the standard sizes of mezuzos sold today. From a halachic perspective, there does not seem to be any reason to choose one size over another. However, it is well-known that the overwhelming majority of the 6 cm. mezuzos are either completely pasul or extremely b'dieved. Since these mezuzos are sold at ridiculously low prices, they are purchased by the tens of thousands. Unfortunately, many of them are written by people with no connection to a Torah lifestyle –and perhaps even by Arabs! Therefore, proclamations have been issued by STA”M organizations stating that, as a general rule, one should not purchase 6 cm. mezuzos.


Furthermore, the handwriting quality of smaller mezuzos is usually inferior to that of larger mezuzos. Thus, smaller mezuzos are far more likely to raise questions regarding the kashrus of individual letters. One of the reasons for this is simply the lack of writing space. The smaller the mezuzah, the less room there is for each letter. And the less room for each letter, the harder it becomes to write a kosher letter. Of course, many sofrim can write small mezuzos beautifully. But the fact remains that the average small mezuzah (10 cm. or less) is of much lower quality than the average large mezuzah (15 cm. or more).


For this reason, it is generally wiser to purchase a larger mezuzah.




The socher asked me if I want the mezuzos in see-through or opaque cases. Does it really make a difference?




Yes. Ideally one should have God’s Name (formed by the letters shin-dalet-yud) visible through the case. If, however, there are small children in the home who can sometimes be found in front of the mezuzos unclothed or having their diapers changed, the mezuzos should be placed in opaque cases.




12 Marcheshvan

DO A GOOD JOB !  Tefillah is referred to by Chazal as Avodah SheBalev--the work of the heart. Likewise, in the Orchos Chaim L’Rosh (26), the Rosh refers to Tefillah as a Halacha Nichbedes--honored work. When one works honestly, and works hard, he does not slacken, let his mind wander, or try just to ‘get-by’--as these are never the keys to success--whether one owns his own business, or works for someone else. In the case of Tefillah, the diligent performance of one’s job will not only prove successful to the mispallel himself--but will overflow into all whom he is mispallel for--family, friends, K’lal Yisrael--and the world!



AIN OD MILVADO!  One of the daily challenges we all face is that of “ Kochi V’Otzem Yadi”--”I really did it, I am so smart, I am so talented, Nobody can do it like I do....” Especially for those living in a western society, where the individual is put on the pedestal, and the idea of a Creator being involved in a person’s daily affairs is an ancient, spiritual or esoteric concept, the challenge to pierce through the physical veil and realize that strength is not the bailiwick of the strong or wealth the property of the wealthy is all the greater. It is reported in the name of HaRav Matisyahu Salamon, Shlita that one make it a practice to recite the words Ain Od Milvado 10-15 times a day. It is not me--It is Hashem--involved in my life! Thank You Hashem! Thank You Hashem!


NEVER ACCEPTABLE! We suggest that there are certain activities which can never be acceptable, although the public at large may view them as commonplace or part of the way that ‘everyone’ acts. Among them: rolling one’s eyeballs at what another person says or does; twitching one’s nose or smirking when someone enters the room; making a sarcastic or stinging comment or retort; belching without first covering one’s mouth and sincerely saying ‘excuse me’; drinking from a bottle; and taking any other action for which a person of good bearing should feel embarrassed or would say excuse me. The world may forget--but not us--that we are a Tzelem Elokim--and always act accordingly!



CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE QUOTE?  The G’ra writes: “U’ma Li L’ha’arich Bazeh, Heavon Hachamur Mikal Ha’aveiros--why should I spend more time on this aveirah--which is the most severe aveirah of all!”



AFORETHOUGHT!  Before eating or drinking, we recite a Bracha Rishona as a matter of course. When taking care of our bodily needs, however, one recites a bracha only after taking care of his needs. This could be explained with purely Halachic reasoning--one cannot recite Hashem’s name when in great need of expelling bodily waste. We should in any event recall the words of HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, who taught that when one successfully completes his needs--he can joyfully declare that “the operation was successful!”  Based upon this, we may suggest that although one recites no bracha prior to entering the restroom--he can definitely acknowledge  the great miracle that is about to occur--and mentally ask Hashem that it occur successfully and within the bounds of what for many is a ‘natural and everyday’ miracle --without pain, ill effects, or the need for any outside intervention.



QUESTION OF THE DAY : What will I do better today than I did yesterday? 



Special Note One: Chazal teach that one of the six questions that a person is asked after 120 years is Tzipisah L’Yeshuah-- did you eagerly await Yeshuas Hashem?” Upon first reflection, we may ask--what does this question mean; after all, do not we talk about the redemption many times throughout our davening daily? It accordingly appears then that Tzipisah L’Yeshuah is at a minimum something more.


Before providing short answers, we very importantly note that there is a beautiful English Sefer Yearning with Fire, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita. This Sefer provides a full treatment of this essential question, the answer for which a person must be fully-prepared with. In terms of more immediate responses, we bring below the following three thoughts by different Rabbanim to whom we posed the question:


1. The Sha’arei Teshuvah to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 118 brings the Mahari Tzemach who advises that in the bracha of Es Tzemach Dovid of Shemone Esrei--when reciting the words Ki Lishuasecha Kivinu, one should stop and actually have Kavannah that he is awaiting and yearning for the Yeshuah. Hakhel Note: HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl (in his Sefer Rinas Chaim on the Shemone Esrei), explains that it is not enough to simply recite the words Ki Lishuasecha Kivinu, but one must ask for the Moshiach to come mei’omek halev--in a truly sincere and heartfelt way!


2. In the twelfth Ani Ma’amin, we recite that we believe in the coming of the Moshiach and that we await him every day. This means that just as we know that Hashem watches over our actions, our words, our thoughts each and every moment--we also must believe that Hashem has a plan--and that Hashem is leading us to Yeshuah. Our living is not day-to-day--it is with plan and purpose--a spiritual plan and purpose! This--we can (and should) think of many times during the day. This is Tzipisah L’Yeshuah….


3. One should take a step back--why are we awaiting the Moshiach? What is the hope, the yearning, the anticipation about? In the second paragraph of Aleinu--Ahl Kein Nekaveh (originally the Tefillah of Achan)--Chazal clearly set forth in detail for each and every one of us what we yearn for--what we have to look forward to. Accordingly, if one recites the Ahl Kein Nekaveh prayer phrase-by-phrase--he will be clearly demonstrating that he is awaiting and yearning--and what he is awaiting and yearning for!  


Once again, the above wonderful thoughts were provided by Rabbanim with whom we consulted. Because of the fundamental nature of this ‘One of Six Questions’--may we suggest that one further delve into Tzipisah L’Yeshuah through the study of Yearning with Fire--and through further discussions with one’s Rav! May each and every one of us be able to successfully answer (even to oneself) this essential question--each and every day!




11 Marcheshvan

DAILY PREPARATION: Baruch Hashem, Shabbos Kodesh comes at the end of the week! In preparation for Shabbos, we can do a bit more daily than reciting the Shir Shel Yom. May we suggest that one maintain a special Shabbos notebook/pad/paper in which he records Halachos, Divrei Torah, stories that he hears during the week, that he wishes to relate to others on Shabbos, or at the Shabbos table. Each such recording will not only enhance one’s Shabbos--but we suggest is also a Mitzvah Asei D’Oraysa of Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho!



GREAT IDEA: In one of his Emuna Daily Shiurim, Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, provided the following important thought: “Someone around you keeps on clicking, and clicking and clicking his pen. After a while, it becomes unnerving, and he really has to be told off. Rather than telling him off, however, you envision that for each additional click you earn $1,000….” One may encounter other,  perhaps even more disturbing nisyonos. There is a point to them--they are for you--and the reward for your successfully navigating them is truly much more than $1,000 per click! 




Special Note One: Final points and pointers on Parashas Lech Lecha:


A. We must always remember the tremendous zechus that the Avos bring us--as we have noted before, Chazal (Pesachim 87A) teach that Hashem told Hosheah that his Tefillah on behalf of K’lal Yisrael should have been: “Banecha Heim B’nei Chanunecha Heim B’nei Avraham, Yitzchak, V’Yaakov Galgel Rachamecha Aleihen--they are Your sons, the sons of Your loved ones, the sons of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, heap Your mercy upon them!” Perhaps this Tefillah--a Tefillah suggested by Hashem Himself--should be kept on our lips. Asking for Hashem’s mercy should not be left to the Yomim Noraim--it is essential that we always plead for Hashem’s mercy--especially asking Him to remember the greatness from which we come!


B. In a related vein, the Sefer Tomer Devorah (1:12) teaches as follows: This is how a person should conduct himself. Even if he meets Jewish people who do not act properly, he should not behave cruelly towards them or abuse them. Rather, he should show them compassion, saying, “Ultimately, they are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Although they may not behave properly, their fathers were upright and worthy. One who despises the sons despises the fathers, too. I do not wish their fathers to be despised!!” Thus, one should not allow them to be disparaged or disgraced, and certainly not disparage them himself--but instead help them improve as much as he can.


C. It is not because they are impatient, nor is it because  they have no time as they must go to work. The reason people stand at a bris, writes HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, in his Siddur, is because everyone (aside from the sandek) must stand for the sake of the Mitzvah. In fact, one who encounters others on the way to performing a Mitzvah (such as a bris) he continues, should accompany them four amos. Hakhel Note: Based upon the foregoing, it would be an interesting question when one sees the kevater walking the baby in for the milah, as to whether he should escort him for at least four amos!


D. Rashi (Bereishis 12:2) teaches that important words in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei correspond to Hashem’s words of bracha to Avraham at the outset of the Parasha. The bracha of

V’e’escha LeGoy Gadol (I will make you into a great nation) corresponds to Elokei Avraham, Va’avarechecha (I will bless you) corresponds to Elokei Yitzchak, and VeAgadlah Shemecha (I will make your name great) corresponds to Elokei Ya’akov. In the audio-visual presentation that was shown on the life of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, the point was made that HaRav Elyashiv would have special Kavannah when mentioning the Avos in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei. We should take this teaching to heart, and not gloss over our reference to each one of the Avos at the outset of the bracha. Perhaps we can even write into our Siddur the great three brachos mentioned above to which each of Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak and Elokei Ya’akov refer. We can also think about the great Middos of the Avos to which we are scions--the Chesed of Avraham and  the Gevurah of Yitzchak--which are brought so to the fore in this week’s Parasha (can we try to visualize it?)…and the Emes of Yaakov in the weeks to come!



Special Note Two: The Pasuk in Yirmiyahu (31:14) writes that Rochel cried over the exile of her children and that Hashem, in turn, responded to Rochel that she need not cry further.


Most are familiar with the following famous incident:  HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, while once at Kever Rochel, was overheard to have said that although Hashem had instructed Rochel Imeinu not to cry, he, “Chaim,” was nevertheless asking her to cry for her children.  The question is clear--if Hashem told Rochel Imeinu not to cry, how could HaRav Shmuelevitz--”Chaim”--seemingly go against this order and ask her to cry?


Some say, that HaRav Shmuelevitz himself answered the question by explaining that while a father (Hashem) could tell his daughter to calm down and not cry, a child (such as HaRav Shmuelevitz) could ask his mother to show a special care and concern for her children.


A second explanation is given in the name of HaRav Moshe Aharon Stern, Z’tl, who teaches that Hashem, by telling Rochel that she didn’t have to cry, was actually inviting further supplication and tears.  HaRav Stern draws the parallel to Hashem’s response to the sin of the Golden Calf, where He tells Moshe Rabbeinu “Leave me alone and I will destroy them,” even though Moshe had not yet asked for mercy from Hashem for the Chait HaEigel (See Shemos 32:10 and Rashi there).


We can all take an important lesson from Rochel Imeinu--and apply it in the here and now--today!  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, notes that the Bais HaMikdash is referred to as the “Sukkas Dovid HaNofales” (Amos 9:11 )--as the falling/fallen booth of Dovid.  He explains that the word ‘Nofales’ is meant to inspire us to picture a person or a precious object as it is falling and as it finally falls.  He or it is not in its natural or proper position.  Something that is falling or has fallen, must be picked up and placed where it is supposed to be. We must do everything in our power to pick it back up.  How?  May we suggest that at some point in the day we follow in the footsteps of our Mama Rochel.  We should take a moment out to picture the fall in front of us--and do what we can to stop the fall by asking Hashem to raise up, and keep up, that most precious possession, to Him and to us, the most special place on earth, the Bais HaMikdash. May the words of Hashem to Rochel--”there is a reward for your actions--and your children will return to their borders” ring true for our actions as well, speedily and in our day!


Related Note:  We had once received the following moving thoughts from a reader:   “ Rochel wants us to cry, to feel uncomfortable in Galus.  If we don’t feel like we are in Galus and we don’t cry out to Hashem, then why should He take us out altogether?!  If we are fine where we are, then why should anything change?  The only way to get out is by asking for it! If Rochel is crying for us (as we know that Hashem says that her tears are going to bring the Geulah) we must each take out our Sefer Tehillim or use our own words to BEG Hashem to bring us out of Galus!  And THEN Hashem will be able to tell Rochel Imeinu, ‘Minee Koleich Mibechee V’einayich Midim’ah,’--Rochel, you can stop crying, because ‘V’shavu Banim Ligevulam,’ Bnei Yisrael want to return to their boundaries—and so they will!  May we all have the zechus to see these very words come true IN OUR DAY !”




10 Marcheshvan

Special Note One: As incredible as it may sound, it is now 30 days since Yom Kippur, and 40 days since Rosh Hashanah! The halfway mark will be coming sooner than we think….  It behooves each and every one of us at this time to take a few moments out to recall what our goals and aspirations were for the year, to consider what we have accomplished (now that we are in fact, a couple of weeks past Yom Tov), and to determine how we can better put ourselves in the right direction for the future.  Without wishing to sound intimidating, we intend to provide a similar awareness notification in another 40 days--so we ask that you plan to meet the challenge.


Additional Point:  In order to keep the special spirit of Yom Kippur throughout the year, as we have noted in the past, there are special people who count every ten days from Yom Kippur--and designate the day as ‘Asiri Kodesh’--a tenth day reserved or dedicated to more lofty conduct. Today, as the 10th day of Marcheshvan, is the third Asiri Kodesh since Yom Kippur.  A practical and effective way to activate and apply your Asiri Kodesh is by keeping on guard a bit more throughout the day--asking yourself--would I do this, say that, or even consider that, would I conduct myself in this manner, if today was Yom Kippur?  The Asiri Kodesh--a special opportunity to elevate yourself --together with others around the world!



Special Note Two:  The Luach Davar BeIto provides the following reminders to us relating to today--the tenth day of Marcheshvan, and tomorrow, the eleventh day of Marcheshvan:


A.  The Sefer Mo’ed Lechol Chai brings that Gad ben Yaakov was born today.  Gad is a Siman of Mazel (“Bah Gad--Bah Mazel Tov”, see Targum Yonasan)--and accordingly should be a day of Mazel Tov for one attempting to accomplish anything, for the zechus of Gad is with us the entire day.  Some have the custom today to read the Pesukim that relate to the birth of Gad, as well as the brachos that Gad received from Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu. 


B. Today is the third yahrzeit of HaRav Dov Schwartzman, Z’tl.  The following is once again excerpted from In His Ways: The Life and Achievements of HaGaon Reb Dov Schwartzman, Z’tl, by Rabbi Shmuel Wittow, Shlita: “Reb Chaim Yehuda [a student], said that for a period of time he had a chavrusa with the Rosh Yeshiva before davening that began at 5:00 in the morning.  The first day he was surprised to see the Rosh Yeshiva close his Gemara at 6:30 , as davening did not start until 7:00 .  When he asked the Rosh Yeshiva to explain, Rav Schwartzman answered that he had a Kabbalah to do a Chesed before davening; so each morning he would take that portion of time to go home and prepare chocolate milk for his children’s breakfast.


C.  Tomorrow is, of course, the Yahrzeit of Rochel Imeinu.  The Imrei Emes related that when the leader of Nazi Germany yimach shemo vezichro attempted to enter Eretz Yisrael in the summer of 1942, great Tzaddikim went to daven at the Kever of Rochel Imeinu, and that Rochel Imeinu appeared to them and advised that the gezeirah against the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael had been nullified! 



Special Note Three:  Several points and pointers relating to last week’s Parasha:


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


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


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


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


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


Hakhel Note:  The Rema in his commentary to the Tur (Yoreh Dei’ah 265:4) writes that although he did not see it being practiced, if one concludes the words of the Pasuk that the Mohel had begun [Ashrei Tivchar U’Sekareiv Yishkon Chatzeirecha]--i.e., with the words, “Nisba’ah BeTuv Beisecha Kedosh Heichalecha--he is zoche to enter through heavenly spheres!



Special Note Four: We now continue our Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah and Nevi’im. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak.






I have a $750 budget for buying ten mezuzos. Should I buy ten mezuzos for $75 or should I buy five mezuzos for $100 and five for $50?





The first thing you need to find out is how many of your ten doors involve a Torah obligation of mezuzah. As we have mentioned, many doorways today do not. A Rav should be consulted to determine if it is permissible to purchase less expensive mezuzos for particular doorways (i.e., walk-in closets, storage rooms, etc.).


Assuming either that all the doorways in question involve Torah obligations of mezuzah, or that you don’t want to skimp even on the doorways involving a rabbinic obligation, the following advice would apply.


·        If the $75 mezuzos are mehudar and the $50 mezuzos are not, you should buy all ten mezuzos for $75.


·        If the $50 mezuzos are really mehudar as well, but just not as nice looking as the other mezuzos, then there is good reason to say that the $100 mezuzos should be purchased for the rooms in which the family spends the most time.



·        If the $100 mezuzos are mehudar, the $75 mezuzos are l’chatchilah, and the $50 mezuzos are only b’dieved – and all ten doors indeed involve a Torah obligation – then you should purchase all ten for $75 apiece.








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