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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin

NOVEMBER 2016 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE

 

29 Marcheshvan

AHL CHEIT: Today is Yom Kippur Koton, and tomorrow, Rosh Chodesh Kislev will mark two months since Rosh Hashana. Yom Kippur Koton is a special time for Teshuvah. May we recommend reviewing the Ahl Cheits today? An effective way to do so may be in the back of the Artscroll Yom Kippur Machzor (also published by Artscroll as a separate pamphlet on Vidui). Teshuvah--the time is now!

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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)

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EXCERPT OF THE DAY:Aimless surfing, compulsive news checking, and excessive preoccupation with email and messaging are some examples of “digital pull” with which we are familiar. The direct outcome of this is that all of the quality activities in which we need and want to engage must compete against the powerful influence of “digital pull.”

 

The negative consequences of “digital pull” are experienced in two ways. Digital pursuits of little or no value rob us of time better spent learning, in pursuit of parnassah, engaging with family, and a host of other worthwhile pursuits. Additionally, even while engaged in truly valuable activities we often succumb to the commands/enticements borne to us through pings and vibrations.” [Excerpted from The Evolving Digital Challenge by Rabbi Nechemiah Gottlieb, Shlita].

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IMPORTANT REMINDER! 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 HaKavanos 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!

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THREE PRECIOUS TEACHINGS FROM THE DIRSHU MISHNA BERURAH:

 

1. The reason that Avrohom Avinu is referred to in the Torah as Av Hamon Goyim is because he taught the whole world Emunas Hashem. (SA OC 53 Mishna Berurah seif katan 50)

 

Hakhel Note: To the world around us we can follow suit…in name…and in deed!

 

2.  The reason Pesukei D’Zimra is referred to by this name is because external forces (kelipos) attempt to stop Tefillah from rising upward, and with Pesukei D’Zimra (Zimra meaning cutting) they are cut down. It follows then, that if one talks during Pesukei D’Zimra he is sent back as a representative of the Jewish people in a time of milchama. How important it is for us not to speak during Pesukei D’Zimra. (SA OC 54 Mishna Berurah seif katan 5, explaining one of the instances of return from milchama described in Devorim 20:8)

 

3. It is better to allow someone who you feel is not hagun to daven, if a machlokes will result as to who should daven. Moreover, the Chasam Sofer rules that if someone davened when another should have davened instead, the Tefillah will nevertheless be a benefit for the neshama of the person who should have benefited. (SA OC 581 Mishna Berurah seif katan 11, and Chasam Sofer SU’T Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah 345, both as quoted in SA OC 53, Dirshu Note 72)

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REMEMBERING THE MUMBAI KEDOSHIM: As may be known to you, today is the eighth 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.

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THE ROAD TO CHANUKAH:  As we reach the milestone of Yom Kippur Katan Kislev today--the first Yom Kippur Katan of 5777--we quickly realize that we are CLOSER TO CHANUKAH than we are to the Yomim Tovim of Tishrei!  We must accordingly strengthen ourselves in our Teshuva B’Chol Yom as the year moves on to its next phase.  It is our special duty to be vigilant not only in the words that we speak but in the words that we hear. When we hear certain catch phrases--we must know how to react and stymie the Lashon Hara that is about to come:  “This is how my Rebbe talks....;  She always....;  He has this...;  That kid gets me so angry....;  Listen to this (with facial expression)...;  I don’t want to say Lashon Hara....”    With a bit of prevention--we can save ourselves--and our family member, friend or acquaintance from serious sin--as a few words here and a few words there can literally make the difference in a person’s success in this world.  The Chofetz Chaim says it beautifully:  “If we are enjoined by the Torah to help our friends in monetary matters--which are relative only to this fleeting and transitory world--all the more so (‘Kamma VeChamma Kiflei Kiflaim’)  should we extend our goodness to their souls which will last for eternity!”  When we protect ourselves from Lashon Hara--we are gaining access for ourselves--and our friend--to everlasting life.  What a beautiful Avodah--an excellent Teshuva B’chol Yom example--to work on with sincerity and drive--as we take our right step forward ...to Chanukah!

 

Hakhel Note: The following important points in the Teshuvah process are excerpted from The Power of Teshuvah An Effective Day-by-Day Guide, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (p. 142):

 

-Acknowledge that you are solely responsible for the choices in your life.

-Realize that you cannot blame others for the choices that you have made.

-Refuse to indulge in self-pity, but rather, take charge of your life and give it direction and reason.

-Internalize that Hashem equips each person to perfection. If He did not equip you with a certain asset or trait, then that trait cannot help you achieve your potential!

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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 Bein Adam 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.

 

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28 Marcheshvan

ANSWER OF THE WEEK: In last week’s Bulletin we had raised the question as to why Eliezer’s bowing upon his realization that the Shidduch would be fulfilled teaches us that one must be thankful for good news. After all, did not Avrohom Avinu build a mizbei’ach to Hashem when he was told that he would have descendants, and that Eretz Yisrael would be their inheritance (as described at the outset of Parashas Lech Lecha)?! We suggest that perhaps Eliezer’s expression of thanks to Hashem is an additional new level that we are being taught. Avrohom Avinu thanked Hashem for the personal wonderful news for him and his family. From Eliezer, the Torah teaches us that we must likewise express thanks to Hashem--when we learn of good news for others (even to the extent, as in Eliezer’s case, it was to his detriment in that his daughter would no longer be able to marry Yitzchak)!

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AT LEAST AS GOOD AS THE GUESTS! We know that Avrohom Avinu, after feeding his guests, would urge them to recognize where the food came from--resulting in a Bracha to Hashem.  Each and every one of us should be no worse than Avrohom Avinu’s guests!  Before making a Bracha over a food item, let us think for a brief moment (just as Avrohom Avinu urged his guests to) that this food is from Hashem and that it is a great kindness for Hashem to give it to me.  Then, begin with a much more meaningful “Boruch…!”

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CHAPTER 83: Many of us have recited and/or continue to recite Tehillim Chapter 83 which describes our battles with the nations of the world against us…including, as the Pasuk describes “Peleshes Im Yoshvei Tzur” (Philistia, with the inhabitants of Tyre). Incredibly, Dovid HaMelech, with Ruach HaKodesh taking on a new meaning in our generation, pleads with Hashem to destroy them: “Ke’eish Tivar Ya’ar U’Chelehava Telaheit Horim”--like fire burning the forest, and like a flame that sets mountains ablaze (Tehillim 83:15). It is not the forests who will be destroyed--it is them. Let us use our Koach HaTefillah to reverse the fires burning in the forest--to where Dovid HaMelech pleads that they belong!

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A SERIOUS MATTER:  When one relates Lashon Hara, and another listens to it, believes it, and passes it on further, the Chofetz Chaim writes that the person who originally related the Lashon Hara will also be held responsible for the consequences of his actions--his causing the second person to believe and the third, fourth, fifth, sixth… person for believing and passing on the Lashon Hara as well.  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, relates that Rav Pam, Z’tl, would say over from Reb Levi Yitzchak M’Berditchev:  “Lo Nivrah Peh Elah Lilmod Torah V’Lilmod Zechus Ahl K’lal Yisrael…the mouth was created only to learn Torah and to speak of the merits of Klal Yisrael!”

 

Hakhel Note One: Rabbi Reisman surmised that using our mouths in Tefillah was included in seeking the merits of K’lal Yisrael! 

 

Hakhel Note Two: We provide by the following link a summary review of the seven prerequisites that are necessary in order to relate what would otherwise be considered Lashon Hara http://tinyurl.com/3n7kbk2  You can print it out, cut it into the size of a card, and leave it in your wallet.  On the other side, you can put the following notation:  “Any questions--call the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline. In the United States, the Shailah Hotline’s number is 718-951-3696 and the hours are 9:00 PM-10:30 PM from Sunday through Thursday and Motza’ei Shabbos, and 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).

 

Hakhel Note Three: See additional thoughts in the note that immediately follows.

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YAHRZEIT OF RABBEINU YONAH: Today is the Yahrzeit of the Rabbeinu Yonah (Rabbeinu Yonah B’ R; Avrohom of Gorona). We accordingly provide just a few of his many and monumental teachings, specifically relating to the power of speech:

 

1. Chazal (Erchin 15B) teach “Kol Hamisaper Lashon Hara Ke’ilu Kofer BaIkar”, as that Pasuk says: “Asher Amru…Mi Adon Lanu--with our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Tehillim 12:5).

 

2. Chazal (ibid.) also teach that Lashon Hara is the equivalent of the three sins of Avodah Zara, Gilui Arayos and Shefichas Damim combined. How could this be so? The Sha’arei Teshuvah provides three reasons: (i) one who is not careful with his words will repeat his transgression--word by word--several or even many times during the day. After all, it is easy to do, sometimes entertaining, free and not illegal (or perhaps even immoral) by Western standards; (ii) one’s tongue becomes so quick that it is almost as if his tongue induces his thoughts--and not vice versa. Accordingly, one’s Teshuvah is exceedingly difficult because he has trained himself to speak without thinking--and even when he thinks before he speaks, he will let the statement go--as he has done in past practice; (iii) often a person does not see the effects and hurt caused because the party directly affected is not present. Once the Lashon Hara has been released--just as an arrow--one will not know who it hit and where, and it cannot be retrieved. For all the archer knows, he has done nothing. However, he may really be guilty of murder.

 

3. Remarkably, Shaul HaMelech told Do’eg (who had spoken ill of the people of Nov Ihr HaKohanim): “Sov Attah U’fega BaKohanim--you turn and kill the Kohanim”. (Shmuel I, 22:18) Chazal explain that this means: “You have smitten with your tongue, you should strike with the sword”. Do’eg was made to understand the lesson.

 

4. Chazal teach that one who relates a p’gam Mishpacha--Ein Lo Kapparah Olamis, can never be forgiven.

 

5. Although the Torah usually protects in time of danger, it will not protect one who is a ba’al Lashon Hara, and, in fact, such a person is not worthy of studying Torah. When Chazal teach that an aveirah does not extinguish the Torah that one has learned--it only refers to an aveirah that happened in a sporadic way, and not to one who is not careful with his tongue as a matter of course.

 

6. Chazal teach: “Knesses Yisrael B’Kolah Ahuvah U’V’Kolah Senuah--through its voice K’lal Yisrael is beloved, and through its voice it is despised”. We know the voice of Lashon Hara that is despised--what is the voice that is loved? It is the voice that speaks Divrei Torah, Chochma, Mussar, peace among people, the view of people in a positive light, praising goodness, deprecating evil and defending the truth. With this, one can achieve his potential in life.

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TO LOVE AND TO APPRECIATE:  In last week’s Parasha we find an extraordinary dialogue between Avrohom Avinu and Efron.  Rashi (Bereishis 23:10) explains that this Efron had been a commoner, but suddenly took on importance because Avrohom Avinu , the “Nesi Elokim”--the recognized Prince of Hashem --needed to deal with him.  Rather than show his appreciation to Avrohom from raising him from a no-name to prominence, Efron asks for a huge sum of money--‘What is 400 shekel between me and you in exchange for the Meoras HaMachpeila?’  Rashi (ibid., 15) in explaining the extra words between me and you writes “between two people so beloved (‘ahuvim’) to each other such as us, what is 400 shekalim....”  Beloved?  Ahuvim?  What?  Avrohom Avinu had nothing to do with this low and unscrupulous, perhaps despicable, person just a few moments ago--and would probably have nothing to do again with him for the rest of his life! What is the belovedness, the affection between them to which Efron is referring?!  We may suggest that these words shed great light on the quality of the Chesed of Avrohom Avinu, which we, as his descendants must most certainly endeavor to emulate.  When Avrohom simply spoke to another person, the love, the feeling, the caring was evident and tangible.  The next person was not a ‘chesed case’; or someone on behalf of whom Avrohom Avinu had just performed a unilateral chesed ( imagine how Efron’s life, and perhaps his children’s and descendants lives were now so fully turned around for good).  Rather, the next person was  someone who Avrohom Avinu loved and appreciated--to the extent that the person felt it--it was real!  Efron’s rishus, his wickedness, placed his love for money over his feelings of love back, but nevertheless, because of Avrohom Avinu’s demeanor and conduct--even a person as lowly as Efron appreciated that they were ahuvim --merely from their brief encounter.  As we have now taken leave of Avrohom Avinu in the Parashios for the moment, we must realize the practicality of his teachings and apply them as we perform chesed for others --the warmth and beauty, the caring and love should be evident from our attitude and demeanor--the ‘Chesed l’Avrohom’ can and should most certainly live within us in our daily life!

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TEFILLAS HADERECH: We learn of Eliezer’s trip to and from Aram Naharayim. We most certainly he would have recited Tefillas HaDerech both to and from, notwithstanding that he was a Shaliach Mitzvah. We provide the following reminders relating to Tefillas HaDerech, as excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 110). As always, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek regarding a final p’sak in his particular facts or circumstances:

 

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 microphone?  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, Z’tl, and yblch’t 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.

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RULINGS ON SHIDDUCHIM:  Since last week’s Parasha is the source of Shidduchim in the Torah, we present below the rulings and advice of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relating to this crucial topic, as found in the Sefer Derech Sicha (I, p.110-121). Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek in any particular situation:

 

1.  A Shadchan’s job is not over after (s)he has made a match. The Shadchan should continue to daven for the couple (if they are young enough) to have progeny--for once you start the Mitzvah...! 

 

2.  Even though Shidduchim are “min HaShamayim” one should take concern for older singles--because even though the Shidduch is from Heaven--when they will become engaged is not--and this requires hishtadlus.

 

3.  Yes, even every proposed Shidduch is a step closer to the right one.  Hakhel Note:  In the Parasha, we find that Eliezer thanked Hashem after he met Rivka--even before his receiving the final agreement of Rivka’s family, and returning to Eretz Yisrael.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein; Z’tl, teaches that we see from here that one must thank Hashem for every step along the way as well!  

 

4.  Once a Shidduch has been attempted and turned down, one has fulfilled his hishtadlus as to that Shidduch, and does not pursue it further.

 

5.  One should pay a Shadchan, even if he is a relative. The relative can return the money if he wants to--but should first take it.

 

6.  A Bas Talmid Chochom has two ma’alos--the zechus of Torah, and the chinuch that she saw in her home!

 

7.  Eliezer did not mention anything about the Akeida or about Yitzchak’s righteousness to Besuel and Lavan because this is not what they would appreciate.  One must know who he is talking to when discussing a shidduch.

 

8.  If one asks an Adam Gadol what to do--he should listen to his advice-and not excuse himself from listening for this reason or that reason.

 

9.  Tefillah helps for everything--even if a person’s zivug was destined to be an am ha’aretz based upon his current conduct, a girl’s tefillah to marry a talmid chochom with yiras shomayim could turn all of that around.

 

10.  Tefillah helps for everything--even if a person’s zivug was destined to be an am ha’aretz based upon his current conduct, a girl’s tefillah to marry a talmid chochom with yiras shomayim could turn all of that around!

 

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27 Marcheshvan

A SPECIAL PERSPECTIVE

At the recent Shabbos of Inspiration (Project Inspire) in Flatbush, Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Shlita, related something shocking, and asked the audience how they would react.

Late at night, in a CVS store, he met an old friend, Dovid, who had moved out to Los Angeles soon after his Chasunah. It was more than 25 years since they had seen or talked to each other. After a brief exchange of initial pleasant greetings, Rabbi Salomon gently inquired as to whether Dovid had a family. Dovid turned a bit pale, and responded that yes, he had ten children. Rabbi Salomon was happy to hear. Were any married? Where did they live? Dovid appeared uneasy, and then unburdened himself a bit: Actually, his oldest child, a daughter, had married a non-Jew and moved back to Korea with him. His second daughter lived close-by in Los Angeles, but was not observant at all. His third and fourth children, sons, were away in college--one in New Mexico, and the other in Oregon. He continued his tale of woe, providing the status of another five of his children--all, astonishingly, off-the-derech.

It took great resolve for Rabbi Salomon not to release a floodgate of tears in front of his old friend, withholding with every ounce of strength that he had the great emotion that he felt. After all, he had heard of one child off-the-derech in a family, and in absolutely horrible situations two or a horrifying three leaving Torah observance--but nine children off-the-derech?!! Dovid was his old and good friend, a very normal, kind and patient person, a man of Chesed, and of beautiful Middos. Rabbi Salomon then with trepidation asked--and what about your tenth child? At that point, Dovid evinced a small smile and answered that he was still a young boy, in Yeshiva, and was Shomer Torah U’Mitzvos, giving him much Nachas. Allowing a few more minutes of forced conversation, Rabbi Salomon excused himself, left the store, and upon arriving home released his feelings and cried for a long time.

How would you react to this story? Wouldn’t you cry real tears-a tale of tremendous tza’ar and of heart-searing agmas nefesh--wouldn’t you terribly ache in emotional and perhaps even physical pain? Wouldn’t you then respond by opening a Tehillim and sincerely davening for Dovid’s children, and by giving Tzedaka (perhaps to the point that it hurt) to commiserate and hopefully help Dovid?

Rabbi Salomon continued: Dovid is a mashal to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. We--each and every member of K’lal Yisrael, are HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s children. Shockingly and unbelievably, nine out of ten of His children-- our brothers and our sisters--are now off-the-derech. In fact, according to a recent study, 100,000 Jews are being lost per year to intermarriage and assimilation. How can we not feel the stark and intense pain of HaKadosh Baruch Hu--when all He seeks is the nachas that His children are Torah Jews--fulfilling their potential and purpose in life?!  We must certainly daven and give Tzedaka for our brothers and sisters who are off-the-derech. There is, however, one special act that each and every one of us can do to join with HaKadosh Baruch Hu--as He longingly seeks to bring His children back home.

Each one of us can sign up as a learning mentor with one of the nine children. In just an hour a week you can change a life that has strayed--and bring him/her back home! Both men and women can join. Learn on the phone or in-person. Please call Project Inspire at 646-461-3339, or email info@projectinspire.com. Please show that you really care--and take this practical, meaningful and effective step!

 

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24 Marcheshvan

REMINDER--RABBI FRAND’S RECOMMENDATION: At the marvelous Shabbos of Inspiration (by Project Inspire) in Flatbush, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, commented that at the outset of his Shabbos meal both he and his wife describe a Yad Hashem that occurred to them during the past week. He remarked how wonderful it is to do so, and encouraged it at each and every Shabbos table--by each of the participants!

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UPDATED HAKHEL GEMACH LIST: The 5777 Hakhel Gemilas Chesed List, which provides contact information for hundreds of Chasodim in the New York Metropolitan area (with special sections for Queens, the Five Towns, Crown Heights, Monsey and Lakewood), is now available by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/gemach-list.htm, and by the following link in a PDF version http://www.hakhel.info/Hakhel-Gemach-List-5777.pdf  PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LIST IS FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY and cannot be reprinted or reproduced for any other reason, whether as part of a tzedaka or commercial venture or otherwise, without the express written consent of Hakhel, which will be given only on a case-by-case basis. For further information, please call: 718-253-5497.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Torah Jews accept digital technology as a tool, not as a way of life. Your cell phone is like your vacuum cleaner. Did you ever see someone buy a pink case for their vacuum cleaner?” [Rabbi Nechemiah Gottlieb, Shlita, Director, TAG International]

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SHA’AREI DEMA’OS: In yesterday’s Daf Yomi (Bava Metziah 59A), Chazal teach that Hashem has not closed the Sha’arei Dema’os--the gates of tears. Although we live in a rapid-paced, hard-to-focus society, it certainly behooves us to concentrate and cry to Hashem over something that we need a Yeshuah for. Chazal instruct us that the gates of tears are not closed--let us enter our pleas to the Omnipotent One through those gates!

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A ‘MUST REMEMBER’:  By merely uttering the words ‘I agree’ to one who has just spoken Lashon Hara to you, or in fact even by merely nodding affirmatively to a Lashon Hara comment--makes you both a speaker and an accepter of Lashon Hara.

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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 Lesson--Shalom is worth oh 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.

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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 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!

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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, we remind our readers that 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!
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THE POWER OF A BRACHA! We find the bracha (Bereishis 24:60) given by Rivka’s family to her prior to her departure--was 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!

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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 this from Avrohom Avinu himself when he was told by Hashem that his descendants would receive Eretz Yisrael (Bereishis 12:7).  Why do we have to learn, or relearn this from Eliezer--the Eved of Avrohom?

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PESUKEI D’ZIMRA--HALACHA CLARIFICATIONS: Yesterday, we noted many important Halachos from the Mishna Berurah (Dirshu Edition) relating to Birchos HaShachar and Pesukei D’Zimra. In connection with these Halachos, we add:

 

1. One must always seek the guidance of his own Rav or Posek for final p’sak in any and all areas.

 

2. We brought a Dirshu Note that when one is reciting Pesukei D’Zimra one would not answer “Amen” after V’Yatzmach Purkanei. To be clear, the Mishna Berurah does not provide this ruling. It is the ruling of the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 4:14). We add that the Igros Moshe also rules that one would not answer “Amen” while reciting Pesukei D’Zimra to the Yehei Shelama Rabba and Oseh Shalom Bimromav portions of Kaddish as well. Once again, the Mishna Berurah itself does not make these distinctions.

 

3. We brought the Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 51, seif katan 13) which provides  the areas which are “bein haperakim”. The Mishna Berurah actually lists the areas which are “be’emtzah haperek”--leaving the others areas to be “bein haperakim”. We once again urge our readers to mark off those areas which are “bein haperakim” in their siddur.

 

4. If one is in the midst of reciting the 15 praises of Hashem contained in Yishtabach (beginning with the words Shir U’Shvacha and ending with the words Brachos V’Hoda’os)--and then answers Yehei Shemei Rabba--he should once again begin with Shir U’Shvacha--so that he does not interrupt the 15 praises of Hashem, and recites them together. (SA OC 53 Dirshu Note 5)

 

5. The last two words of Yishtabach are Chei Haolamim. This means that Hashem rules over both Olam Hazeh and Olam Habah, and causes them to exist at every moment. (SA OC 54 Mishna Berurah seif katan 2 and Dirshu Note 2)

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AT THE MIDPOINT: We are at the midway point between Sukkos and Chanukah, but with fires blazing in Eretz Yisrael, 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.”  This, 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: It is a perfect time for a special 30-Day Kabbalah--thirty days before Chanukah!

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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 hot liquids.

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 Yitzchok 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 Yitzchok does, however, write that one can be machmir on himself in this area. (ibid., 301, Dirshu Note 89) 

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POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, PARASHAS CHAYEI SARAH: 

 

A. 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 Yitzchok 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!

 

B. 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 Yitzchok--but in the building of all of K’lal Yisrael! Similar results are available…for all of her descendants as well!

 

C. “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 Yitzchok’s wife was “This is from Hashem.”  We must ask ourselves--How could this be?  What had changed within them in the few brief moments of their encounter with Eliezer?  If we look at Eliezer’s words to them we may glean a better insight.  In his brief discourse, no less than five times does Eliezer specifically refer to Hashem as his hope and trust, as the source of all of life and life’s events, as the Master of all.  He is not intimidated by his company, feels no need to “make nice”, does not “talk their language”.  Rather, he sincerely expresses his belief, openly declares his faith, and unabashedly avers that our lives and everything about them are in G-d’s hands.  His genuine sincerity not only strengthened his faith, but made an incredible impact on even the crème de la crème of the wicked.

 

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

 

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

 

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23 Marcheshvan

SIMCHAS TORAH! Today is a month since Simchas Torah (in Chutz La’aretz)--23 Tishrei to 23 Marcheshvan--certainly a most auspicious time to rededicate and re-energize ourselves to Torah study!

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RECEIVED FROM A READER: “Anger and danger are only one small letter apart...which should also be a good reminder where anger can lead us!”

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MOUTHWASHES: In commenting on toothpastes and mouthwashes, Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler, Shlita, once said: “Just as a Jew must watch what comes out of his mouth, he must watch what goes into his mouth.” There are certainly mouthwashes on the market which contain unkosher ingredients. Other mouthwashes claim not to have any “animal derivative ingredients”--but do not have Kosher certification of any kind. The following mouthwashes are certified Kosher by the OU, when bearing the OU symbol:

 

Jason

001585 Power Smile Mouthwash Mini

Jason

00159 Healthy Mouth Mouthwash Mini

Jason

01550 Power Smile® Super Refreshing Mouthwash

Jason

01555 Sea Fresh® Biologically-Active Mouthwash

Jason

01560 Healthy Mouth® Naturally Bacteria- Fighting  Mouthwash

Jason

01565 NutriSmile® All-Natural Ester-C Mouthwash

Jason

J61845 Power Smile Cinnamon Mint Mouthwash

Jason

Nutri Smile Mouthwash Mini

Jason

Sea Fresh Mouthwash Mini

Tom’s Of Maine

CMMW Cool Mountain Mint Long Lasting Wicked Fresh! Mouthwash

Tom’s Of Maine

PCW Natural Cleaning Mouthwash- Peppermint

Tom’s Of Maine

PWMW Peppermint Wave Long Lasting Wicked Fresh! Mouthwash

Tom’s Of Maine

SCW Natural Cleaning Mouthwash- Spearmint

 

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L’EVED HASHEM:  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! 

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IMPORTANT HALACHOS RELATING TO DAVENING: The following notes are excerpted from the Mishna Berurah Hilchos Birchos Hashachar and Pesukei D’Zimra (Dirshu Edition):

 

A. The Shulchan Aruch writes that the reason we recite various parts of Karbanos in the morning is so that every day one will be sure to learn Mikra, Mishna and Gemara. The Mishna Berurah, however, notes that one is only credited with learning Mishna and Gemara if he understands what he is saying--otherwise it is not considered to be learning. There is a fascinating additional thought here. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:13) writes that one should try learn Mishna and Gemara even if he does not understand them, and L’Asid Lavo he will be able to understand that which he tried to understand here. The Chida adds that the attempt itself is considered Talmud Torah, and that if one understands the words but not the concept being conveyed, this also constitutes the Mitzvah of Torah study. The foregoing relates to Torah She’be’al Peh. With respect to Torah Shebichsav, even if one does not understand what he is reciting--as long as he realizes that he is reciting these words, the Shelah HaKadosh writes that he fulfills the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. The Chida writes that this is true of the study of the Zohar as well--one should study even if he does not understand it, and it is “mesugal leha’ir es hanefesh-- enlighten the person’s soul!” (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 50:1, Mishna Berurah seif katan 2, and Dirshu Note 3)

 

B. Once one has commenced Boruch She’amar he cannot speak about other matters until after Tachanun. The prohibition to speak even makes it impermissible to recite the words “Boruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo” when reciting a bracha. It is permissible to recite “Amen” on any bracha that one hears, even if one is in the middle of a Pasuk in Pesukei D’Zimra, if it is at the end of a thought. It is also permissible to answer Modim D’Rabanan and to recite the first Pasuk of Kriyas Shema with the Tzibbur if they are then reciting it. One should also respond to Barchu and recite the Pesukim of Kedusha together with the Tzibur. One should not, however, answer “Amen” to Veyatzmach Purkanei, but should answer “Amen” to the rest of Kaddish.  It is also permissible to recite a Birchos Hoda’ah (such as a bracha on lighting and thunder), and Asher Yatzar in Pesukei D’Zimra. It is preferable to recite the Asher Yatzar at certain points which constitute “bein haperakim” (interim points) in Pesukei D’Zimra which are listed in Orach Chaim 51, Mishna Berurah seif katan 13. (SA OC 51:4 Mishna Berurah seif katan 8 and 9, Bi’ur Halacha d’h Tzarich and Dirshu Note 12) Hakhel Note: It would be a good idea to mark the Bein HaPerakim of Pesukei D’Zimra in your siddur.

 

C. The main reason that we recite Ashrei daily is to recite the Pasuk of “Poseiach Es Yadecha U’Masbia Lechol Chaim Ratzon--this is a Shevach to Hashem and we should Kavannah that He is Mashgiach Ahl Briyosav U’Mefarnisan--that Hashem watches over His creations and sustains them. The Magein Avrohom brings from the Rabbeinu Bachya that when reciting these words one should think about the Nifla’os Hashem, Hashem’s greatness and His chesed towards us. This will keep a person distant from sin, and bring him great zechusim! If one realizes that he did not have Kavannah in reciting the Pasuk Poseiach Es Yadecha he should being again from Poseiach Es Yadecha until the end of the Kepitel. If one realizes that he did not have Kavannah when he is well beyond that spot and does not have the opportunity to return, he should at least recite from Poseiach Es Yadecha until the end of the Kepitel after davening. (SA OC 51:6 Mishna Berurah seif katan 15 and 16 and Dirshu Note 18)

 

D. The Arizal would give Tzedaka in a standing position when reciting the words V’Ata Moshel Bakol (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 19).

 

E. The ikar of Pesukei D’Zimra is from Ashrei through Kol HaNeshama Tehalel Kah. (SA OC 52 Mishna Berurah seif katan 4)

 

F. If a woman is davening in Shul with the tzibbur but comes late, there is a machlokes haposkim as to whether she should skip in order to begin Shemone Esrei with the tzibur or not. The concept of skipping in order to begin Shemone Esrei with the tzibur is not lechatechila at all--as a man must come to Shul on time so that he does not need to skip. The Maggid (the malach) who learned with the Beis Yosef taught him that one must be careful not to skip in order to ‘catch-up’ because when doing so he overturns the tzinoros--the channels--through which our Tefillah travels. If it happens that one did come late, then there is a specific order of priority as to the order of priority. There is a machlokes haposkim as to whether one must make-up that which he skipped after davening. (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 1-3, and Dirshu Note 3)

 

G. Lachatechila one should be careful not to recite Birchos HaShachar after the fourth hour of the day, but b’dieved one may recite them until chatzos. If one is lenient and recites the brachos even after chatzos, one should not reprimand him. (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 10)

 

H. One should stand when reciting Yishtabach, both during the week and on Shabbos, and whether one is davening privately or B’tzibur. The reason for this is that it is considered a Birchas HaMitzvah which should be recited standing and also a Davar She’b’kedusha. Indeed, the Bach writes that one fulfills his obligation to speak praises of Hashem by reciting Pesukei D’Zimra, and accordingly Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach are brachos before and after the Mitzvah! (Mishna Berurah 53 seif katan 1 and Dirshu Note 2)

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CONNECTED OPPORTUNITIES:  Chazal (Avos 4:2) teach that we should run to perform Mitzvos--and to run from Aveiros--a simple enough instruction, with no additional thought seemingly necessary.  However, Chazal do indeed add a word of further explanation--”For the reward of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah, and the reward of an Aveira is an Aveira”.  A Mitzvah is not simply one grand act, and an Aveira one devastating misdeed.  A person’s deeds simply do not stand alone.  One moment’s action leads to the next, and a 360 degree turn away from the previous act requires much effort.  Indeed, if one studies his day, he will find that Mitzvos may be more bunched at certain times--such as in Shul in the morning where davening, tzedakah and other chesed may be performed in tandem, or in the evening when you know it is time to study, and to help this person in this way and that person in that way. On the other hand, one gesture of anger, one word of ona’as devorim or lashon hara leads to another and to another--for once you start it is simply harder to stop, and sets the tone for your next moment of life.  One can truly aid (and encourage) himself if he bothers to mentally note (and perhaps actually notate) during the day when he has fallen prey to the mud of one aveira sticking him on to the next one--and, to the contrary, when he has encountered the beautiful medley of Mitzvos being performed in joyous concert. Every act that we perform has ramifications--not only to others and to the world--but to ourselves--because it will guide and direct us onto our next step important in life--which, like the one before it, is always an irreplaceable one!

 

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22 Marcheshvan

AT THE TOP OF THE LIST!: The Chofetz Chaim (5:5) importantly writes “Me’od Me’od Yeish Lizaher --one must be very, very careful not to speak negatively against someone based on the premise that “I don’t mean to hurt him or put him down--I mean it for the to’eles that will result”, unless one is sure that the Halachic conditions for relating what would otherwise be derogatory information are really, truly satisfied. IF IN DOUBT, don’t say it! The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline is here to help us all in the real life situations and circumstances we face our find ourselves in --718-951-3696 , between the hours of 9-10:30 pm New York time. Expert Poskim are there to guide you to make the RIGHT choice-free of charge.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hakhel Note: As noted above, Chazal teach that one is obligated to say these words--Masai Yagia...it is reported that HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, was unsure how often to say (and obviously think about applying) these words--so he made sure to do so every day!

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HOW TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE:  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, teaches that not once does the Torah record any vikuchim--any debates--that Avrohom Avinu had, either in Ur Kasdim, in Charan or in Cana’an.  Instead, the Torah began Parashas Vayeirah by showing the great lengths to which Avrohom Avinu went to find guests, common wayfarers, so that he could show them hospitality and have them realize how Hashem takes care of them.  Then, right before the akeidah, the Torah once again writes:  “Vayitah Eishel Bive’er Sheva Vayikrah Sham Besheim Hashem Kel Olam--and Avrohom Avinu set up an inn, and through it he was able to call out in the name of Hashem, as the Master of the World.”  So, from the beginning through the end, Avrohom Avinu’s success was not by lecturing to the non-believers, but by giving to them, and through this bringing them to Hashem.  Rav Erlanger related that in the earlier years of Bnei Brak there were some mechalelei Shabbos in town.  There was a person who would wash his car every Shabbos in public to the shock of the Bnei Yeshiva.  One of the bochurim went to Rav Shach, Z’tl, to ask him what he should do.  HaRav Shach answered-”You take care of his gashmiyus, and Hashem will take care of his ruchniyus.” 

 

How did HaRav Shach know this?  HaRav Erlanger suggests that it was from Avrohom Avinu.  Avrohom’s Derech HaChaim was one of giving.  Through giving to another, one establishes a relationship, an understanding with him that all you want to do is help--and if I am helping here then I am also helping there, and also mean to help over there and over there as well. 

 

As we see in this week’s Parasha, it was Efron who spoke a lot, but gave nothing.  On the other hand, Avrohom Avinu who gave was known by the very people of Efron as the Nesi Elokim--the prince among them. 

 

One final story from HaRav Erlanger to bring home the point:  Petach Tikvah was a small city in Eretz Yisrael which was established as a religious moshav.  In 1947/48, times were very difficult, and the young couples were struggling with their frumkeit.  The local avreichim, Kollel students got together to see what could be done.  They decided to bring great Rabbanim from Yerushalayim to give shiurim to the young couples in Halacha and Hashkafa.  Rav Wolbe, then a young man, thought that they were a step ahead of themselves.  First, he said, let us raise money and give it to the young couples to help them.  Then, we can bring in the Maggidei Shiur.  The others strongly disagreed:  “These people need to be educated,” they said.  Because of the disagreement in approach, Rav Wolbe went to the Chazon Ish.  The Chazon Ish told him that his approach was correct.

 

Be good, be giving, then the right thing will happen.  This is the legacy that has been passed down to us from generation to generation--directly from Avrohom Avinu! 

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FOCUS!  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!

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CAPTURE THE MOMENT!:  We especially note that Chazal (Brachos 26B) learn from a Pasuk in this week’s Parasha (Bereishis 24:63) that Yitzchak Avinu instituted Tefillas Mincha. We remind our readers that 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 swirl 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/she 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 each Tefillah as well. 

 

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 should 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 that 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 time and continues to remain elevated for a few moments longer.  Over the course of a year, one will have learned an extra 365 Mishnayos, Halachos or Pesukim, or recited 365 chapters of Tehillim.  How beautiful!

 

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21 Marcheshvan

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….

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FROM OUR READERS:

 

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 passersby had ceased’.  Avrohom could not live in a place devoid of Kiruv opportunities!”

 

Hakhel Note:  A major figure in the Kiruv movement in the United States advised us that ‘Kiruv Rechokim’ was an inappropriate term--for who could really tell if someone already presumably ‘Karov’ was really more ‘Rachok’ than others. The appropriate term for all, he advised, was Ahavas Yisrael!

 

B. “Regarding your point of the malach asking Avrohom where his wife was in order to 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!

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MORE NOTES FROM LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: 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)

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SHIDDUCHIM!  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--discreetly.  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. We refer you to HaRav Schach’s, Z’tl, beautiful elucidation of this, noted in yesterday’s Bulletin.

 

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-- 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 Rabbeinu 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.

 

 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 VeAhavtem 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!!”

 

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20 Marcheshvan

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!

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FROM A READER: “Rav Shach, Zt’l, asks why it is that Chazal specifically highlight Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah as two mitzvos that should be performed “b’tznius--discreetly.  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 a Levaya” is not the complete 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!”

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RE-INTRODUCING A 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! 

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ADDITIONAL POINTS AND POINTERS ON 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 Hachnosas 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 Hachnosas 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 Hachnosas 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 Hachnosas Orchim to angels--and he knew it.  Even with Mesiras Nefesh--this cannot compare to the Hachnosas 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 Hachnosas 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! 

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AN AMAZING LESSON FOR TODAY’S TIMES!  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 LaBonim”--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 of K’lal Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and around 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.

 

It is reported in the name of HaRav Moshe Wolfson, Shlita (speaking before the election), that the term of President-elect Trump could be an especially auspicious time for the Binyan Beis HaMikdash…

 

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!

 

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17 Marcheshvan

YAD HASHEM: At last week’s outstanding Shabbos of Inspiration (by Project Inspire) in Flatbush, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, commented that at the outset of his Shabbos meal each of he and his wife describe a Yad Hashem that occurred to them during the past week. He remarked how wonderful it is to do so, and encouraged it at each and every Shabbos table--by each of the participants!

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FREE SEFORIM IN SPANISH: By the following links http://tinyurl.com/osxmy4q  http://tinyurl.com/qzzozp8 we provide two Seforim written by Rabbi Fabio Pirowicz, Shlita, of Buenos Aires, which he has kindly made available for free distribution.

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TAKING THE ELEVATOR: As noted earlier this week, this week’s Parasha contains the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether one should take the stairs rather than take an elevator when going to visit one who is ill--for one is then exerting himself to a greater extent, and doing a Mitzvah with each step.  He responded that if it would involve bittul Torah, one should take the elevator.  [Hakhel Note:  The question teaches the great importance of Bikur Cholim on the one hand--and the great importance of Talmud Torah on the other!]

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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!

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SHALOM BAYIS! Rashi teaches that the Malach inquired of Avrohom as to where Sara Imeinu was so that Avrohom would realize and respond that she was inside--in the tent: “Kedei Lechavevah Ahl Ba’alah--which would cause Avrohom 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! 

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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!

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FROM A MOMENT WITH RABBI AVIGDOR MILLER ZT”L:

 

QUESTION: When you’re making kiddush over wine, why do you have to cover the challah?

 

ANSWER: The reason that is given is, in order not to embarrass the challah, not to shame it; challah is important.

 

Now, there is more than that reason, but just to follow that line of thought... In the Chovos Halevavos it tells a story of a chosid; a pious man who was walking with his disciple, and they saw a dead cow lying in the street. It was summertime and the carcass had been “ripening” for some time, and the disciple made a remark about the odor. So his master rebuked him and said, but look how white her teeth are!

 

Now the question is, is there a problem of lashon hara on a dead animal? And the answer is, you have to practice all the time. Because once you get into the habit of belittling inanimate objects, it becomes a habit that is transferred to human beings. If you like to knock things, you’re eventually going to knock people, and the gemara (Arachin 15b) takes it one additional step further. If you knock people, you’ll come to knock Hakadosh Baruch Hu. As the Pasuk says, Shatu bashomyim pihem ul’shonom ti’halach ba’aretz, you know why their tongues, their mouths are against heaven? Because their tongues formally walked around on the earth.

 

Their tongues used to take big tours. They used to sit in a home at Melava Malka and they talked about people. They walked through Boro Park, Queens with their tongues, they even walked in Eretz Yisrael and talked about Gedolim and Jews in Eretz Yisrael, ul’shonom ti’halach ba’aretz, their tongue was taking a tour. Sitting at that party, their tongues are touring the world and lambasting everybody. So as a result, they talked against Hakadosh Baruch Hu too eventually; you can’t departmentalize a man. So we practice up on inanimate objects, we don’t talk against inanimate things.

 

The same is, if you’ll practice up not embarrassing the challos, it’s a pretty good preparation for not embarrassing your sister or brother at the table. You’ll make a kal vechomer: if you can’t embarrass the challah, then you certainly can’t embarrass your brothers and sisters at the table-- that’s the way to learn! But if you’re a tzaddik who is only interested in saving the kavod of the challah but not the kavod of human beings, then you don’t know how to learn--you don’t know how to darshan a kal vechomer, and a man that doesn’t know how to darshan a kal vechomer hasn’t begun to learn. So make a kal vechomer from the challos--and that is why we have to respect inanimate things!

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WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:

 

1.  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.

 

2.  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.”

 

3. The following is an inspirational thought from the Hilchos Shabbos Imitative, L’Zechus Refuah Sheleimah L’Chaya Malka Bas Bassheva. To receive the Hilchos Shabbos Initiative weekly Shabbos Halachos, email learnshabbos@gmail.com:

 

“The Mishna Berurah writes, ‘It is a mitzvah from the Torah to add on to the Shabbos at its beginning and at its end.” This is called ‘Tosefes Shabbos’. Why did Hashem bring the redemption from Mitzrayim after only 210 years, instead of the 400 that Hashem told Avrohom? Chazal say they were redeemed earlier in the merit of Tosefes Shabbos. Why did that particular mitzvah bring the redemption quicker? The Yitav Lev explains: Hashem saw that the Jewish nation was keeping Shabbos beyond its exact times, so Hashem said, “I see that you are not being particular about time, therefore, I will also be flexible with time.” In this manner, the 400 years were decreased to 210. So too, if we add on to Shabbos, we can cause the arrival of Moshiach to happen sooner. Furthermore, we can be redeemed from all forms of difficulties and struggles sooner than they were ordained to end.” (As quoted from Rabbi Biderman – Torah Wellsprings)

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SEVERAL POINTS AND POINTERS ON PARASHAS VAYEIRAH:

 

A.  Although there are several answers to the question as to why Avrohom Avinu sought advice from Aner, Eshkol, 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 learn that once Avrohom Avinu saw Refoel he became healed immediately and was thus able to run towards them.  This serves as a reminder to us all that no medication or treatment, no therapy or regimen can or will be successful unless it is infused with Hashem’s direction and force to heal.  If Hashem willed it, it would not be the tablet that healed, but simply looking at the tablet that would heal.  When we recite the known Tefillos before taking medicine or before going to the doctor we should recognize that the Tefillah is more of the “Ikar” than the tablet, the shot, or the recommended advice to be followed!

 

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

 

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

 

E.  Hashem praised Avrohom Avinu with the words “Ki Yedati…for I have loved him because I know that he will command his children after him to follow in the way of Hashem performing charity and justice.”  HaRav Isser Zalmen Meltzer, Z’tl, asks how charity can come before justice.  After all, one cannot do charity without money which has not been earned justly.  Charity should not precede justice--it should succeed justice in the order of the Pasuk!  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.  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 was Avrohom Avinu’s sister.  While this silence by Lot is admirable, it would seem that he had much greater zechusim to save him than this one act of silence.  Had he not just taken in guests at the risk of his own life, was he not willing to jeopardize the welfare of his own family members so as not to violate the trust placed in him by his guests...and had he not just baked Matzos in celebration of Pesach?!  Why do we have to go back so long, to such a seemingly insignificant event as simply not disclosing Sara’s additional relationship with Avrohom to the wicked authorities?  HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, answers that we learn from here how much more important it is in the eyes of Hashem if your act or deed is an expression of your own thoughts and efforts--your self-developedMadreiga Atzmis”--a level that you have reached or attained by yourself, rather than simply acting in a certain (even good) way because you are used to it, because your parents did it, or because you are fortunately in that kind of environment.  This point, HaRav Aharon continues, is incredibly true, even if the habitual or customary item is truly much greater--and even if it involves actual Mesirus Nefesh-in its performance.  Lot’s Hachnosas Orchim was par for the course, expected, and ordinary--in spite of the adversity and danger, because it was something that he had learned in his youth from Avrohom Avinu, and was something that simply had to be done and get done.  Developing one’s own area or areas of growth in Avodas Hashem is especially treasured by Hashem.  Putting it in further perspective--in Lot’s case--and B’Ezras Hashem in ours--it actually planted the seeds for Moshiach.  Tread new ground, develop your own new path beyond that which you are used to and is expected of you--for this is your best measure of greatness!

 

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

 

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

 

The second great lesson teaches us the extent of Hakaras 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 Hakaras 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 Adam LaMakom, and a Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, level.  In Bein Adam LaMakom--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 Hakaras Hatov for the many kindnesses you receive from those around you.  

 

H.  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 Pasuk 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. 

 

I.  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!

 

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

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CHESED L’AVROHOM:  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.      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.

 

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

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A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING: 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!

 

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16 Marcheshvan

WHERE WE FIT IN!  In last week’s Parasha we find the name of Hashem ‘Shakai’ mentioned for the first time.  As Chazal teach, this Name refers to: “Ani Hu She’amar L’Olom Shyehei Dai--I was the One Who told the world to stop from further creation.”  HaRav Boruch HaLevi Epstein, Z’tl, in his Sefer ‘Torah Temimah’ asks why stopping the process of creation deserves that a name of Hashem be called after it.  After all, wouldn’t it have been fantastic to have even more wonders in the world?!  He answers that Hashem, only because of His great beneficence stopped the world from further creation --for if He had allowed creation to go further, man would have had nothing more to do or accomplish in this world.  Our existence would have been an insignificant, non-meaningful, ‘nahama dechisufa’, one.  Accordingly, the Name, Shakai, is a great praise of ours to Hashem-- for it thanks Hashem for giving our lives meaning and purpose-- to complete the world in a way that only each and every one of us can!

 

Hakhel Note: Based upon this wonderful explanation, we can understand why, of all of the names of Hashem that could possibly greet us as we go from room to room in our homes, buildings and institutions, it is that name --’Shakai’-- on every doorpost--as if to remind us as we constantly come and go to reach our Shleimus--and, by doing your part, helping the whole world achieve its Shleimus as well!

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CHAZARAS HASHATZ:  The Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah (5:6) writes in the name of the Sefer Avudraham that when one listens carefully to the words of Chazaras HaShatz in Shemone Esrei, it is considered as if he davened a second time.  Moreover, he continues, that if one is careful to answer Amen after each Bracha of the Shatz, it is as if he was Mispallel three times(!).

 

There are several important lessons that can be learned from this teaching, among them:

 

1.  The importance of listening (and not being distracted, learning, saying Tehillem, or doing anything else during Chazaras HaShatz)--Shome’a Ke’oneh is an important Halachic concept. Perhaps the best way to listen is to follow word by word in the siddur (some keep their finger on the word);

 

2.  The importance of answering ‘Amen’ (and the utter folly of failing to do so)—just one word meaningfully recited provides you with an entire Shemone Esrei; and

 

3.  The power of a woman’s prayer.  After all, Chazal teach that women are as obligated in Tefillah as men-- ‘for they too need rachamim-- require mercy’.  As we know, women do not daven tefillah b’tzibbur on a daily basis.  Accordingly, we may conclude that a woman’s prayer has the power of the three Tefillos that the man must acquire through a pristine Chazaras HaShatz! 

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YAHRZEIT OF HARAV SCHACH, Z’TL:  Today, 16 Marcheshvan, is the Fifteenth 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, Z’tl (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 the essence of 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 shmuz 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!”“

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LOVING CHESED:  As Parashas Vayeirah provides us with the foundations of the Torah concept of Chesed, we provide the following important derivative teachings from the Sefer Loving Kindness, based on the Sefer Ahavas Chesed (Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation; Artscroll),from the ‘Step By Step’ portion of the work, which contains so much practical advice. We highly recommend the Sefer’s study on a daily basis-it is divided into 178 short daily segments:

 

1.  When an opportunity for Chesed comes my way, I will try to think of the recipient as a beloved member of my family.

 

2.  In doing a kind act, no matter how small, I will focus on the fact that this small gesture is an essential support for the world.

 

3.  The next time my mind defaults to the thought, ‘Someone else will probably take care of it,’ I will motivate myself to be that ‘someone else.’

 

4. Today, I will bli neder begin to give charity on a daily basis--through a pushka, in Shul or by any other accessible means--but it is part of my daily schedule, just as eating, sleeping, davening and saying Tehillim....

 

5.  The next time a person who I don’t particularly hold in high regard is in need of help, I will try to offer whatever help I can.

 

6.  I will become more conscientious about returning borrowed items as soon as I have finished with them.

 

7.  In my future dealings with guests, I will attempt to project myself into their situation so that I can accurately gauge their needs.

 

8.  When I have the urge to put off an act of kindness, I will remember that the opportunity may never be available again.

 

9.  I will perform chesed and give tzedaka in a generous manner; I will try to rely less on material possessions for a sense of security. 

 

10.  The next time someone comes to me with a problem, I will try to focus more fully on what they are saying and how they are feeling.

 

11.  The next time I hear of someone’s difficulties, I will daven to Hashem for help.

 

Hakhel Note:  Please review the above items--they are precious, enlightening and enriching!

 

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15 Marcheshvan

DAVEN! There is popular adage in Eretz Yisrael:  “Lifnei HaTefilah Ani Mispallel She’BeAis HaTefillah Ani Espallel!”--Before I daven, I daven that I will truly pray when I am davening!” Let us devote ourselves to kavannah in Shemone Esrei with renewed sincerity and vigor!

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YOUR THOUGHTS ARE WELCOME!:

 

In last week’s Parasha:

 

1. We find that Avrohom Avinu built a Mizbeach to Hashem, and then encountered a famine in Eretz Yisrael (Bereishis 12:8-10). Similarly, we later find that he built a Mizbeach to Hashem, and then immediately found himself at war with the superpowers of his time (Bereishis 13:18-14:1).  What lesson can we derive from the juxtaposition of building a Mizbeach to Hashem to an eis tzarah that followed? 

 

2. We also find the first mitzvah that Avrohom Avinu is actually commanded.  Yet, when a child comes of age, he is commanded in all 613 of the Mitzvos at once--imagine how much strength Avrohom Avinu’s acceptance of just one Mitzvah instilled within us! Why, however is a boy who comes of age referred to as  a ‘bar-mitzvah’--after all, even if the word ‘bar’ in Aramaic means ‘son’--doesn’t it also mean ‘outside’, or ‘to exclude’--we don’t want the boy to be outside or excluded from Mitzvos, chas veshalom! Why don’t we simply call him a ‘ben- mitzvah’?

 

Once again...we look forward to your thoughts!

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SHORT TEST: Which of the following phrases are not Ona’as Devorim?

 

1. Where is your Seichel?

2. Act your age

3. What’s with you?

4. Hel-lo!

5. Zei Gezunt

 

Hakhel Note: You can prepare your own test based upon the phrases you may otherwise say or hear!

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YAHRZEIT OF THE CHAZON ISH: Today is the Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish (R’ Avrohom Yeshaya B’R’ Shmarya Yosef) Z’tl, whose Tefillah for one to recite on behalf of his son we had provided in yesterday’s Bulletin, and whose profound impact on our generation continues to echo around the world.  The following thoughts of the Chazon Ish are excerpted from Divrei Siach, a beautiful compilation by Rabbi Yitzchok Goldshtaff, Shlita:

 

1. 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!

 

2. 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!

 

3. 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.

 

4. 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!

 

5. 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.

 

6. The Chazon Ish writes that everyone has the mitzvah to perform “Bikur Cholim” upon himself, as well.  This means that he must take care of his body and use the most effective means possible for his personal health. See below for additional important points on the great Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.

 

7.: 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 Kanievsky 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/Zevulun 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 SheBechsav 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.  Someone asked him if he could borrow funds even if he did not know how he could repay them, simply based on his bitachon that he would obtain the funds to repay. The Chazon Ish responded--only if you would lend funds to others based on the very same bitachon that he would obtain the funds to pay you back.

 

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

 

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.  He held that if by mistake one overrode his stop (even if he was involved in learning), he must pay the extra fare involved.

 

K. 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, even if he didn’t intend to insult him.

 

L.  He would say that the way to avoid forgetfulness--is to do it immediately! Hakhel Note: Remember--this is the advice of a Gadol--so always keep it in mind!

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ON BIKUR CHOLIM:  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 Sheyichieh--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 Parasha 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.  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).

 

5.  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!

 

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14 Marcheshvan

WHAT TO THINK ABOUT! Every Rosh Hashana, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mirrer, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Z’tl, would speak in each of the three Batei Midrash where the Yeshiva held Minyanim, all together addressing thousands of Mispallelim. On the last Rosh Hashana of his life he rose to the podium in each Beis Midrash and said, “People want to know what Kavanos, thoughts, they should have during Tekiyas Shofar. Do you want to know what you should think about during Tekiyos?! Tracht Vegen Yenem--think about someone else!”

[Pirchei Weekly, Source: Rabbi Nosson Tzvi (with kind permission from Artscroll)]

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YOU CAN STILL SUBSCRIBE IN TIME FOR THIS SHABBOS! We heard of a Yerushalmi Tzaddik's recommendation that each Shabbos Seudah have a story to strengthen Emunah/Emunas Chachomim.  Accordingly, we once again supply the email address for Shabbos Stories-a weekly free email compilation from a wide variety of sources--subscribe by contacting keren18@juno.com

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AVOID THE SCAM: We have been advised of a new scam in which a smoking agent is poured under a car when stopped at a light, and then the driver is approached by a ‘concerned’ individual in a neighboring car or as a pedestrian, who knows how to ‘fix the smoking problem’. The smoke is eliminated…and the charge maybe up to a few hundred dollars. One should instead tell the ‘concerned’ individual that he is not worried and will bring the car to his own mechanic.

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COUNT YOUR WORDS--42!  We may all be familiar with the fact that there is a 42-letter name of Hashem, as most widely evidenced by the abbreviations of Ana B’choach contained in most Siddurim. It is certainly no coincidence (as it never is) that the first Parasha of Shema--beginning with V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha through the end of the Parasha contains 42 words--and, as we have recently noted, the first bracha of Shemone Esrei contains 42 words! Hakhel Note: The easy lesson is that each and every word of Tefillah is important and has much deeper meaning to it--if we can have Kavannah at least for the simple meaning, then everything else will come along with it! One who davens with Kavannah, by analogy, thinks he is driving a car--but in actuality is leading a locomotive (or a 747) filled to capacity!

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A FEW PERSONAL QUESTIONS:

 

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, 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 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.

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FROM A READER: Regarding Tzipisah L'Yeshuah--the Yeshuah can even mean our personal Yeshuah because that represents a small part of the Tza’ar HaShechina while we are still in galus. (For example, having the challenge of raising a child that is going off the derech can be compared to the Shechinah watching His children, K’lal Yisrael, wandering blindly in this long and dark galus.) In this context we can understand it as: “Did we truly believe, b'emunah shelaima, that the Yeshua to our personal tzara can come k'heref ayin--and that the Yeshua is coming straight from Hashem?!”

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THE TEFILLAH OF THE CHAZON ISH: As tomorrow is the Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish, we provide by the following link the famous short Tefillah that he composed for one to recite on behalf of his son - http://tinyurl.com/qfakgle

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A FEW IMPORTANT PARTING LESSONS FROM PARASHAS LECH LECHA:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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YOU MADE A WEDDING AND YOU DIDN’T SEND ME AN INVITATION?! In the Divrei Siach, Rabbi Yitzchok Goldshtoff, Shlita, writes that to those who have been asking HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, what they can do in an Eis Tzara, HaRav Kanievsky often responds to add onto and strengthen one’s Torah study--for as Chazal testify, Torah study shields and saves from harm. In this regard, Rabbi Goldshtoff brings an amazing incident with the Chebiner Rav, Z’tl. The Rav was once invited by an acquaintance to the marriage of his son. The Rav did not attend as he could not attend all of the simchas that he was invited to. When this gentleman was ready to marry off his second son he did not send the Rav an invitation, understanding that the Rav would not be able to attend. Several days after the wedding, he saw the Rav and asked the Rav for a bracha for his son. The Rav replied: “You made a wedding and you didn’t send me an invitation?!” The acquaintance--stunned by the question--responded: “I understood that the Rav would not be able to attend the Chasunah, just as he was unable to attend my first son’s wedding.” The Rav responded: “You should have sent an invitation for two reasons: Firstly, when one receives an invitation it makes him happy, and he gives a bracha and wishes the ba’alei simcha well. This is reason enough to send a hazmana.” The Rav continued: “For me, there is a second reason to send an invitation--because for every invitation I receive for a simcha in which I will be unable to participate I estimate the time it would take me to travel to, remain, and return from the simcha--and dedicate that time to the additional study of Torah. Because you did not send me an invitation--I lost out on the additional time of learning that I love to do so much!”

 

Hakhel Note: How many practical lessons can you derive--and implement from this story?!

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THE SECRET OF UNITY: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (12:2) provides a great lesson for us in the incredible effects of unity--or at least one's own personal sincere attempts to obtain it:  “Before davening one should have especial kavannah to genuinely accept upon himself the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha.  For when there is separation among K'lal Yisrael 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 Adam L’Chaveiro, then, directly branches to Bain Adam L’Makom--and produces huge gains--Bain Adam L’Atzmo!

 

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13 Marcheshvan

IMPORTANT DAILY QUESTION: What will I do better today than I did yesterday?

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HODU LASHEM KI TOV! Last week, we had asked how many Pesukim in Tehillim have the phrase Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki Leolam Chasdo in their first Pasuk? The correct answer is four--Chapters 106, 107, 118 and 136. Fascinatingly, 106 is preceded by the word Halleluka, and it was pointed out to us that 118 as the concluding Chapter of Hallel is also preceded in previous Chapters by Halleluka many times. Likewise, Chapter 135 immediately preceding 136 ends with the word Halleluka as well. The lesson appears to be that before we can appropriately thank Hashem with the words Hodu Lashem…--we must come to the experiential realization of Who Hashem is what Hashem does for us by first exclaiming “Halleluka”.

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

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kedusha requires effort. If one does not pay attention to his actions, he will go downhill in the ordinary course. If one does not make the effort to come to davening on time, he will find himself coming to davening later (and later). If one does not consider learning more, he may lose a Chavrusa here, and a daily Mishna Seder there. If one is not proactive in performing Chesed, he will find himself doing less of it. Life needs sustenance not only by eating and sleeping, but by the conscious effort to improve spiritually. One must be diligent not get caught up with the rush of society and apparent daily stresses--and be sure to remind himself that he is a descendant of Yaakov Avinu--who was taught by Hashem to take steps up the very important ladder--of life!  [Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, at the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah]

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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!

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CAPTURED CITY:  Because the Yetzer Hara is a melech zakein u’kesil--an old and hoary king, we must ‘be smart’ and devise ways of dealing with his methods of deceit and entrapment. A Rav who does not live in the city itself advised us that whenever he must travel into the city, he is very much repulsed by what he sees and experiences--but, nevertheless finds that the Yetzer Hara is very much at work, pulling at one’s heart and at one’s eyes. When he does travel into the city, he has found what helps him deflect the allurements of the Yetzer Hara is to view the city as ‘captured’--and the unchaste or improperly behaving people that he meets there as individuals who have gone over to the side of and are collaborating with the enemy. One who is loyal will keep his distance and stay clear of them--for even if the city is captured--one can still maintain his dedication and resolve, his faithfulness and devotion to the side of that which is true, good and right!

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REMINDER--THE LAST LINE OF AVINU MALKEINU: The treasured last request of the Avinu Malkeinu tefillah that we recited many times over the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, and which we recite on fast days, is Avinu Malkeinu Chaneinu V’Aneinu…Asei Imanu Tzedaka V’Chesed V’Hoshieinu. This beautiful, all-encompassing request is not limited to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah and taneisim--in fact, we (at least, men) recite it every day in our regular Tefillos--in Tachanun. We should not let this powerful and comprehensive request to be mere lip service--after all, it was the conclusion of Avinu Malkeinu at Neilah on Yom Kippur! One should most definitely make a special point of reciting it with feeling and zeal each and every day--twice a day!

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YEARNING WITH FIRE! 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 we not talk about the redemption many times throughout our davening daily? It accordingly appears that Tzipisah L’Yeshuah is at a minimum something more.

 

Before providing short answers, we very importantly remind our readers 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 to which a person must be fully-prepared. In terms of more immediate responses, we provide the following three thoughts by different Rabbanim to whom we had 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! 

 

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!

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

 

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10 Marcheshvan

REMEMBER--THIS IS THE RIGHT TIME! WHAT A WONDERFUL TIME TO BOOK HAKHEL’S TEFILLIN AWARENESS PROGRAM “HANACHA K’HALACHA” FOR YOUR SHUL OR YESHIVA. HUNDREDS OF SHULS AND YESHIVAS HAVE REAPED THE ENORMOUS BENEFITS OF THIS SPECIAL PROGRAM, IN MANY COMMUNITIES. WITH LETTERS OF BROCHA FROM GEDOLIM AND POSKIM…. THE PROGRAM HAS TRAVELED OUT OF TOWN AS WELL, TO CITIES SUCH AS DETROIT, TORONTO, AND TO THE AGUDAH’S YARCHEI KALLAH PROGRAM IN YERUSHALAYIM. TO BRING THIS GREAT PROJECT TO YOUR SHUL OR COMMUNITY, PLEASE CONTACT SHELROSH@COMCAST.NET

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FOLLOW-UP--QUESTION OF THE DAY: Yesterday, we had asked how many Kepitelech of Tehillim contained Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdoin their first sentence [See Tehillim Chapters 106, 107 and 118]. Fascinatingly, the first time (and only the first time) Hodu Lashem Ki Tov…” is mentioned (i.e., in Chapter 106), it is preceded by the word “Hallelukah”. Why is this true only for the first time this fundamental phrase is mentioned?

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A TIME TO SPEAK UP: The Chofetz Chaim severely criticizes those who poke fun at, ridicule or even undermine their Rav’s drasha in Shul. Indeed, Rabbi Aharon Kahn,Shlita points out that even looking into a sefer or reading a Parasha newsletter while one’s Rav is speaking is a form of Lashon Hara--for one makes it appear as if it is not worth listening to (even if one is listening ‘with one ear’, and even if one could repeat the gist of the drasha).  Based upon the Chofetz Chaim’s words, we can surmise that the converse is also true. If one repeats to others what his Rav has said--or continues to discuss its meaning and ramifications after Shul--he is demonstrating Kavod HaTorah, and assisting the Rav to better assert his guidance and authority with the Kehilla. Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah!

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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!

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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. We would like to remind you of our suggestion 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 Shabbos--but we suggest is also a Mitzvah Asei D’Oraysa of Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho!

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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! 

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THIRTY DAYS! As incredible as it may sound, it is now 30 days since Yom Kippur, and 40 days since Rosh Hashanah! The halfway mark--even in this leap year 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!

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THESE DAYS OF MARCHESHVAN:  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 fifth 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! 

 

Hakhel Note: 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 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:   “When we speak about Rochel Imeinu, we say, ‘Kol B’ramah Nishma...Rochel Mivaka Al Baneha Ki Einenu...--a voice is heard on high...Rochel is crying about her children....’ The question is why is the term ‘mivaka--used?! Should not the Pasuk simply say: ‘Rochel Bocha--Rochel is crying’ because she is constantly crying for us to come out of Galus!  The answer could be that mivaka means that Rochel Imeinu is crying intensely hard--because we are not crying!  She is trying to get us to cry out of the pain of Galus because we seem to forget where we are.  What we have to do now is cry out to Hashem and beg and plead for Him to take us out!  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 on High (as we know that Hashem says that her tears are going to bring the Geulah) why not take out your Sefer Tehillim or use your 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 will return to their boundaries.  May we all have the zechus to see these very words come true!” 

 

Final Note: Some have pointed to the fact that the terrorists in Eretz Yisrael have attacked at Kever Rochel Imeinu, and at the Kever of her son, Yosef HaTzaddik--indicating an underlying fear among them of the arrival of Moshiach Ben Yosef. In turn, it may be suggested that the name of Yishmael does not mean that Hashem will listen to their cries--but to our cries from their terror. In the Selichos for BeHaB recited this past week, we pleaded: “Kalei Se’ir V’Chosno (Yishmael)--may our Tefillos be answered, and may we witness it in our day!

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WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:

 

A.  Women have priority over men in lighting Shabbos candles, as they are more involved in a home’s needs, and an essential reason for Hadlakas Neiros is Shalom Bayis--a feeling of serenity in the home which the woman is eminently capable of.  Additionally, as we learn in Parashas Bereishis, woman caused man to eat from the Eitz HaDa’as, resulting in man’s light being extinguished (death was introduced into the world), and so the lighting of candles is a form of takana and kapara for women.

 

B.  The Mishna in Shabbos (2:6) teaches that a woman may, r’l, pass away in childbirth because of a failure to be careful with Hadlakas Neiros.  The Rashash to this Mishna explains that simply failing to light Shabbos candles would not engender something as serious as the death penalty.  Rather, the Mishna is referring to someone who is not careful to light on time--which can/will c’v  result in Chilul Shabbos--for which the penalty is misah, death. Hakhel Note: Shabbos Candlelighting times listed on calendars, magnets and the like should not be viewed  merely as goals to strive for, or with the attitude of “I really have another fifteen minutes”--but should be taken seriously and stringently--staying far, far away from any danger zone--a time period in which one is literally playing with fire.  The zemanim are there for a reason--to avoid Chilul Shabbos, and, moreover, to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh of Tosefes Shabbos--adding on to the Kedusha of the Shabbos.  Indeed, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (75:6) writes that one should light in weekday clothes if necessary in order to avoid getting involved in a ‘Sofek Chilul Shabbos’’, and that if a husband sees that his life will be lighting in a Sofek Chilul Shabbos time--he should light himself instead and not be concerned with her anger!  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 262, seif katan 11) adds that it is a ‘Mitzvah Gedolah’ to sit in the dark rather than c’v come to Chilul Shabbos.  Let us take special note of these words as we approach the shorter Erev Shabbos days of the winter months (in the Northern Hemisphere).

 

C.  When lighting candles, one should not move his/her hand away from the wick until most of the wick has been lit, so that the flame will be burning well--this is the way the Menorah was lit in the Bais HaMikdash, and the way we are to light Neiros Chanukah as well (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 264:8, and Mishna Berurah there).

 

D.  What should one do if it appears that a candle is going to fall on the table?  See ibid., 265, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 16--and perhaps ask your Rav for a shiur on the topic!  Hakhel Note:  To obtain a copy of a Hakhel Shiur given by Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl, on “Emergency Situations on Shabbos”, please call 718-252-5274.

 

E.  The Neiros must be long enough to burn into the night(so that one has actual benefit from the candlelight--otherwise there is a bracha levatala issue), and continue burning through the end of the meal (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 75:2).

 

F.  ‘The Radiance of Shabbos’ by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita (Artscroll) devotes several important chapters to Hadlakas Neiros.  Rabbi Cohen brings from the Zohar that one should be sure to light the Neiros Shabbos with great joy!

 

G.  Those who are zealous with the Mitzvah of Hadlakas Neiros will merit to greet the Divine Presence (Shabbos 32A)--what an accomplishment--for an attitude of zealousness!

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POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, 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 Avrohom, Yitzchak, V’Yaakov Galgel Rachamecha Aleihen--they are Your sons, the sons of Your loved ones, the sons of Avrohom, 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 Avrohom, 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 because of me!” 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.  Hashem is referred to in this week’s Parasha as the Mogein of Avrohom (Bereishis 15:1).  The special concept of Mogein Avrohom has, of course, been included as the concluding words of the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah points out that Hashem is our Mogein as well in the zechus of His being the Mogein of Avrohom.  Chazal teach Becha Chosmin--we end the first Bracha only with Avrohom, 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 (whose Yahrzeit was yesterday), explains that the reason we end only with Avrohom is because at the end of days, K’lal Yisrael will be much like in the time of Avrohom 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 Avrohom!

 

D.  Avrohom 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 Yisrael, appear so small in this world--yet their actions make a great and real impact where it counts--in Shomayim! 

 

E. The Mishna in Avos (5:4) teaches that Avrohom Avinu passed ten different tests.  Yet, in the previous Mishna which states the number of generations between Noach and Avrohom--our forefather is referred to only as Avrohom and not Avrohom Avinu.  The commentaries explain that the term Avinu relating to his tests teaches us that through Avrohom’s succeeding at the tests, he instilled within us, 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 Avrohom Avinu has passed down to us.  Many people have genes for physical traits, we are blessed with spiritual genes which will bring us through eternity!

 

F.  A Talmid asked the Chofetz Chaim whether he should be Oleh to Eretz Yisrael, 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 from this 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 Yisrael at the end of days?!” The Chofetz Chaim then advised the student that this should not detract him from being Oleh to Eretz Yisrael--and gave him the following bracha:  “Aleh L’Shalom, V’Hashem Yatzliach Darkecha!” (Sefer Talelei Oros)

 

G. It is not because people are impatient, or that they have no time because 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 kvater walking the baby in for the milah, as to whether he should escort him for at least four amos!

 

H.  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!

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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST BRACHA OF SHEMONE ESREI: We conclude our review of the vital first bracha of Shemone Esrei--the bracha of Avos. This bracha is so essential that the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 101, seif katan 4) brings from the Chayei Adam that if one realized that he did not have kavannah for the meaning of the words in Birchas Avos, and he realizes this before he said Baruch Ata Hashem at the end of the bracha--he should return to the words “Elokei Avrohom “near the beginning of the bracha and start from there--this time with kavannah!  Additionally, if one completed the first bracha but did not yet begin the second bracha and realized that he had not been focused, the Chazon Ish and others rule that one should review the words of Birchas Avos in his mind with kavannah, and then begin the next bracha. This is how careful we have to be with these incredible 42 words!

 

Additional Note A:  The Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah makes it a point to emphasize in this bracha that we should be careful to properly enunciate its words, and avoid the slightest slurs. For instance--it is ‘LeMa-an Shemo’ and not LeMa’an Shemo, and we should be careful to say ‘BeAhava’ and not BeAava....

 

Additional Note B: In the usual brachos that we make, we refer to Hashem as Elokeinu--our G-d, without reference to Elokei Avoseinu--the G-d of our forefathers. In Avos, we do, however, uniquely refer to Hashem as ‘Elokei Avoseinu’ as well. This being so, shouldn’t the words Elokei Avoseinu precede the word Elokeinu--shouldn’t we say ‘Elokei Avoseinu V’Elokeinu’--after all, isn’t it because Hashem was the G-d of our forefathers that He is our G-d as well--to be sure, we didn’t discover Hashem--Avrohom Avinu did!! We welcome your insights.

 

Additional Note C:  The term “Kel Elyon” uniquely appears four times in this week’s Parasha (Bereishis 14:18-22)--and then reappears in our bracha of Avos.  While the basic translation of the term would be “Supreme G-d,” there seems to be something more underlying the phrase, as it is repeated several times after the Torah describes Avrohom Avinu’s war against the superpowers. The Avodas HaTomid, a commentary on Tefillah, writes that the phrase uniquely and especially describes that Hashem is the cause of everything--everything comes from Him.  Rav Schwab, Z’tl, in his peirush on the siddur adds that we are to understand from “Kel Elyon” that Hashem’s knowledge is beyond that of any man.  He writes, therefore, that he advised people not to think about how something like the Holocaust could have happened because we simply cannot fathom Hashem’s supremacy over us.  Can one man defeat the four superpowers of the World?  Can a group of Kohanim quash the seemingly invincible Greek army?  More recently, could the Six-Day War or the Yom Kippur War...or more recent events.... make sense to the common man?  The term “Kel Elyon” is therefore placed in the Birchas Avos, for it is part of the legacy from our Avos, one of the foundations of our faith, which is immutable by time, place, or occurrence.  Let us not only recite but feel these words-- every time we recite the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei!

 

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9 Marcheshvan

FROM A READER:  “My suggestion: Remove any news icon from your phone. Time is life.”

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QUESTION OF THE DAY:  How many kepitelech of Tehillim have the words “Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasedo” in their first pasuk?

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SO SWEET!  HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita writes in his Sefer VeHa’arev Na that people describe the test one had to pass in order to be able to enter the Vilna Gaon’s shiur. The G’ra would ask the applicant which Daf he knew best in all of Shas--which Daf had he learned tens or even hundreds of times.  When the applicant answered with a Mesechta and Daf number, the G’ra then asked him to sit in the Bais Midrash and study that very Daf again. The G’ra would then observe the potential student as he studied this Daf that he knew better than any Daf in Shas--to see whether his study was with Mesikus--with sweetness and desire as if he was studying it for the first time--he would be admitted to the Shiur.  If, however, it was studied as if one had already studied it without that real first-time enthusiasm--than the Gra’s Shiur would not be his place.

 

Additional Note:  The Mattersdorfer Rav, Shlita relates in the name of the Chasam Sofer that the Torah is a goldmine.  Only those who know how to mine will be able to get out the gold.  It takes time, effort and a special love, dedication and desire to learn the skill--but there is no greater gold at the other end!

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THE FOLLOWING NOTES ARE EXCERPTED FROM THE MISHNA BERURAH HILCHOS BIRCHOS HASHACHAR (DIRSHU EDITION):

 

PART 2

 

A. The Ramban, the Chinuch and the Rashba all rule that Birchos HaTorah is M’D’Oraysa. One should recite the Birchos HaTorah B’Simcha Gedolah. When Chazal teach that K’lal Yisrael were exiled because they did not make the bracha on Torah before learning it, it means that learning Torah was not considered special in their eyes. Accordingly, one must be very careful to express appropriate thanks to Hashem when making the bracha for giving us Kli Chemdaso--His beloved treasure. Indeed, according to some, the bracha of Asher Bachar Banu is a Birkas Hoda’ah V’Shevach, and only the bracha of Asher Kedeshanu B’Mitzvosav V’Tzivanu La’asok is a Birchas Mitzvah. (Orach Chaim 47, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1 and 2, and Dirshu Note 8) Hakhel Note: Perhaps before reciting the bracha we can have in mind that the Torah is a Morasha to Kehillas Yaakov--what a great and invaluable thousands of years old heirloom I have received!

 

B. If one has children, when reciting the words V’Niheyeh Anachnu V’Tze’etzaeinu, he should have Kavannah that they be Lomdei Torah, Tzaddikim and Ba’alei Middos Tovos. He should have a similar Kavannah when reciting Ahava Rabba and in U’vah L’Tzion when saying the words LeMa’an Lo Niga Larik Velo Neileid Labehala. (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 10)

 

C. Although women do not have the chiyuv to learn Torah in the same way as men, the Shulchan Aruch itself (ibid., 47:14) rules that women must recite Birchos HaTorah every day. The Bi’ur Halacha explains that this is because women are obligated to learn the Halachos that apply to them, and also because they must recite the Parashas HaKarbonos which are in the Torah.

 

D. HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that if one travels on a plane at night and goes to sleep, it is considered as if he slept in bed, and he must recite Birchos HaTorah upon rising from his slumber. (ibid., Dirshu Note 25)

 

E. The Parashas HaTomid should in the first instance be recited before Pesukei D’Zimra. Additionally, it is preferable to recite the Parashas HaTomid in Shul because the Karbonos were brought in the Beis HaMikdash and our Shuls are our Mikdash Me’at. The Zohar brings that one who recites Karbanos in Shul with Kavannah attains the special benefit that Malochim who would otherwise seek his harm must do only good to him. (Siman 47, Dirshu Notes 1, 2 and 4)

 

F. One should recite the Parashas HaKetores daily--the Zohar writes that one is saved from devorim ra’im and more if one has Kavannah when reciting it. The Seder HaYom writes that the Parashas HaKetores that one recites should be written on a kosher k’laf and should be read B’Kavannah Gedolah. Reciting the Parashas HaKetores can have the effect of bringing the Ketores itself continues the Seder HaYom, and one who is careful to read it twice daily and to have Kavannah word for word causes Bracha V’Hatzlacha in all that he does, and Parnassah B’Revach. (ibid., Dirshu Note 3)

 

G. Although generally Pesukim may not be recited orally without reading them inside, those Pesukim with which all are familiar may be recited without reading them. The Teshuvas Chavos Ya’ir permitted all of Sefer Tehillim to be recited by-heart, for Tehillim is Me’orer Rachamei Hashem, and is considered like Tefillah. The Chasam Sofer adds that we see that Tehillim was made to be recited by heart, for the Levi’im sang various Kepitelech in the Beis HaMikdash and certainly did not do so from a Sefer. (Orach Chaim 49, Mishna Berurah seif katan 6 and Dirshu Note 4)

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THE TORAH JEW’S PARNASSAH: What was Avrohom Avinu’s profession?  From what did Yitzchak Avinu, Yaakov Avinu, and Moshe Rabbeinu earn a Parnassah?  The Torah certainly does not emphasize the answers to these questions, although we study and learn so much about the lives of the Avos, Moshe Rabbeinu and many other great Torah personalities throughout Tanach.  Indeed, one of the basic questions raised in the Mussar Seforim (Chovos HaLevavos/Derech Hashem/Mesilas Yesharim) is why one must do Hishtadlus at all to obtain Parnassah, with the knowledge that “A person does not stub his finger here below, without it being decreed by Hashem” (Chulin 7B), and with the further knowledge that:  “All of one’s Parnassah for the year is established on Rosh Hashana (except for certain additional expenditures that he makes for certain Mitzvos for which he is ‘reimbursed’ by Hashem)” (Beitzah 16A).  Succinctly stated:  What purpose does it serve for a person to spend hours at work or even work at all--as everything he receives, to the penny, is exactly designated by Hashem?  Going beyond the concept of work being based upon the curse to Adam of “Bezaiyas Apecha Tochal Lechem--by the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread” (Bereishis 3:19), HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, culls together the following important reasons: 

 

A.  Hashem directs us to work in order to test the individual--to see how he will go about attaining his livelihood.  Will he be fully honest and Emunah-filled in his pursuit, or will he engage in questionable acts which approach the gray area of geneivah and gezeilah.  (Chovos HaLevavos, Sha’ar HaBitachon, Chapter 3)

 

B.  Working also provides a different kind of test--how tied into the Olam Hazeh workings  the individual will become, and, to the contrary, the extent to which he can on a day-to-day basis, live the fact that Olam Hazeh is truly only a means to the end--Olam Habah.  (Derech Hashem, 4,5,2)

 

C.  For a person who is not disciplined enough to learn or perform Mitzvos on a full-time (day and night) basis, he may come to sin through boredom and lack of something constructive to do.  Keeping one’s mind occupied with legitimate matters which relate to helping other people and to ‘building the world’ most certainly combat the Yetzer Hara’s attempts to entice a person to sin.  (Chovos HaLevavos, ibid.)

 

D.  Because of a human being’s ability to reason and his chashivus as the pinnacle of creation on earth, Hashem gives him the special dignity to exercise his intellect, rather than to accept everything as a gift without work.  (Derech Hashem, ibid.)

 

E.  It is an opportunity for a person to improve in his Tefillah, as one recognizes that whether he is hired or c’v fired, whether the gets a promotion or a raise in salary, whether he does a good job, or whether he makes a mistake, is all truly B’yad Hashem.  When one recognizes that his Hishtadlus merely allows him to be zoche to the Birkas Hashem through his Bitachon based Tefillah--when he realizes that his Hishtadlus is not the source of his Hatzlacha, but the Divinely-decreed requirement to attain it, then he is well on the road to successfully satisfying the Parnassah aspect of his Avodas Hashem.  In this regard, we once again provide the personal Tefillah for Parnassah that was composed by a reader, which he recites before he begins his daily work schedule http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillahAlHaParnassahReader.pdf.  There are, of course, many more formal Tefillos regarding Parnassah which have been published.  We merely add that when one uses his own words, the sincerity is evident in his personal formulation. 

 

Hakhel Note:  Remember--Im Ain Kemach Ain Torah; Im Ain Torah Ain Kemach--Chazal teach that our daily Kemach is inextricably bound to--our Avodas Hashem!

 

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8 Marcheshvan

THE FOUR BRACHOS:  We were asked to be reminded of the brachos that will be recited upon the Moshiach’s arrival. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl (in Minchas Shlomo 91:27), writes that four brachos will be recited:

 

1.         “Baruch…Chacham HaRazim”

(As there will certainly be at least 600,000 Jews gathered together--see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 224:5).

 

2.         “Baruch…Shechalak Meichachmaso LiReiav”

(As he will certainly be a great Talmud Chochom--see ibid. 224:6).

 

3.         “Baruch…Shechalak MiKevodo LiRayov”

(The bracha recited over Malchei Yisrael--see ibid. 224:8).

 

4.         “Baruch…Shehechiyanu V’Kiyemanu”

(As we, Baruch Hashem, have arrived at this time!)

 

May we be zoche to greet Moshiach today and recite these four Brachos!

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MORE ON THE FIRST BRACHA: Rashi (Bereishis 12:2) teaches that important words in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei correspond to Hashem’s words of bracha to Avrohom 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 Avrohom, 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 an 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 Avrohom, 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 Avrohom 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!

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UNSCRAMBLE THE FOLLOWING WORD:  Mikreh (Mem-Kuf-Resh-Heyh)--which is commonly translated as ‘happenstance’, ‘by chance’, ‘coincidentally’, or ‘as it happened’.  HaRav Yaakov Galinsky, Z’tl, teaches that if we unscramble the word--what it really spells is Rak MaiHashem (Resh-Kuf-Mem-Heyh)--it is all only from Hashem!  Hakhel Note:  In this regard, we provide the following quotation from the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos, Sha’ar HaBitachon, Chapter 3 (translation from the Feldheim Edition--Duties of the Heart, Vol. I, p. 375):  “No one can benefit or hurt either himself or anyone else except with the permission of the Creator, may He be exalted. For if a servant has more than one master, and each of them is able to help him, it is impossible that he should come to rely exclusively on anyone of them, because he expects help from each of them. If one of his masters is able to help him more than the others, his reliance upon the former will be greater, in proportion to that person’s power, though he will also rely on the others. If only one of them can benefit or harm him, he must necessarily place his trust exclusively in that person, since he does not expect help from anyone else.  So too, if a person realizes that not one of the created things can help him or harm him, except with the permission of the Creator, may He be exalted, he will turn his heart away from fear of them or hope in them, and will trust in the Creator alone, as it says: “Trust not in rulers, in a human being, in whom there is no deliverance…[praiseworthy is one…whose hope is in Hashem, his G-d]” (Tehillim 146:3,5).”  Hakhel Note:  Let us unscramble what the world has scrambled--and live our lives with the absolute truth--Bitachon in Hashem in everything!

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A PIECE OF CAKE--OR A COOKIE? If one intends to eat both a piece of cake and a cookie--which of the two should he make a Borei Minei Mezonos on? All things being equal, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 168, seif katan 1) writes that it is a Hidur Mitzvah to make the bracha on the shaleim (the Mishna Berurah’s ruling there is with respect to different bread items).

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REMINDER--LASHON HARA IN-PRINT:  News items have occurred of late, and appear from time-to-time, which draw much human interest, whether because they are sensational, highly unusual, or just out of the ordinary.  We must be careful not to be drawn in to read the contents of any of the ‘news stories’ when there is even the possibility that Lashon Hara is involved against a person who is claimed to have said something, done something or not have done or said something.  One must be honest with himself--indeed, he may be shocked, he may be curious, he may ‘need-to-know’ in order to be up on what is happening in the world--but none of this detracts at all from reading or possibly even accepting Lashon Hara without any to’eles whatsoever.  The Yetzer Hara, as crafty as he may be, would find it hard to provide a truly convincing rationale as to why one should read about the accusations or claims made against another person, when nothing at all is at stake or is truly relevant to the reader.  This kind of news item should be particularly categorized as an unnecessary or unwanted news item, and a blog relating thereto should most certainly be categorized as a superfluous and dangerous blog.  With the attempted obliteration of Lashon Hara in Torah-based periodicals, some explain that the Yetzer Hara is placing its last gasps upon the internet--looking for some public forum for the great and devastating aveirah of Lashon Hara to spread in our community.  Let us think for a moment--is what I am about to read:

 

1.  Truly relevant or at least important;

 

2.   Perhaps as irrelevant as the governor’s race in South Dakota; or

 

3.  Even worse--is it c’v spiritual poison to the reader--and to the rest of K’lal Yisrael.

 

If the answer is ‘yes’ to numbers 2 or 3 (or both)--SKIP IT--save yourself--and your brothers with you!

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THE FIRST THOUGHT THAT COMES TO MIND:  The Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Middos V’Avodas Hashem, Vol. II, p. 262) brings a remarkable teaching from the Alter of Kelm, Zt’l:  “When one is in doubt as to what he is to do, and does not know what is the eitzah of the Yetzer Hara and what is the eitzah of the Yetzer Hatov, he should know that the first thought that comes into his mind is that of the Yetzer Hara.  Chazal teach that “hedyot kofetz b’rosh--the foolish person jumps at the beginning”--without thought.  Accordingly, a person should not take action based upon his initial thought, but instead look further into the matter with follow-up thoughts--for the follow-up thoughts and the weighing of ideas come from the Yetzer HaTov within him.”  With this in mind, explains HaRav Friedlander, we can understand why the absolutely first teaching(!) in Pirkei Avos (1:1) is “Hevu Mesunim BaDin--be deliberate in judgment.”  This is not merely an enjoinder to judges--but an actual, practical and essential guideline of life--to all! 

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HALACHOS OF BIRCHOS HASHACHAR: The following notes are excerpted from the Mishna Berurah Hilchos Birchos Hashachar (Dirshu Edition):

 

A. When one is still in the courtyard of the Beis Haknesses, he should recite the words: “Beveis Elokim Nehaleich B’Rogesh”, and upon arriving at the door of the Shul itself he should wait for a moment and recite the Pasuk of “Va’ani B’Rov Chasdecha Avo Veisecha Eshtachaveh El Heichal Kadshecha Beyirasecha--and only afterwards enter.” (Mishna Berurah--introduction to Siman 46).

 

B. The reason we recite Adon Olam in the morning is because Avrohom Avinu was the first to call Hashem by the term Adon, and since Shacharis was instituted by Avrohom Avinu--it is only fitting to begin with Avrohom Avinu’s term. Indeed, the Eliyahu Rabba brings from prior Gedolim that one who has Kavannah at the beginning of Adon Olam will have his Tefillah answered, with the Satan unable to be mekatreig (ibid., Dirshu Note 1)

 

C. The reason that most of the Birchos HaShachar are written in the present tense is because Hashem is performing these miracles for us in the here and now! (ibid., Dirshu Note 4)

 

D. When reciting the bracha of Asher Nasan Lasechvi Vinah, one should realize that there are really two meanings to the word sechvi. The first is that it refers to the heart--in this case the power of discernment, which can distinguish between day and night. The rooster also has this power, and it is also known as sechvi in an Arabic language. Moreover, the rooster’s call even alerts us that day is coming! (ibid., Mishna Berurah, seif katan 4)

 

E. There are two brachos which mention the term “Yisrael”--”Ozer Yisrael B’gevurah” and “Oter Yisrael Besifarah”. The reason that Yisrael is mentioned specifically in these two brachos is because while all of the other brachos can be applied to mankind in general--these two brachos refer to the Tzniyus of K’lal Yisrael--the belt which separates, and the hat which covers (ibid., Mishna Berurah, seif katan 9).

 

F. In the last of the Birchos Hashachar, we state: “SheTargileinu B’Sorasecha V’Dabekeinu B’Mitzvosecha…” in the plural, in the beautiful Yehi Ratzon which constitutes most of the bracha, which contains many important requests. The reason of the plural is because Tefillos on behalf of the Rabbim in which one includes himself are more effective. (ibid., Dirshu Note 7) Hakhel Note: It always pays to be part of a good tzibbur!

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POST-ELECTION PONDERING:  In this now post-election season in the United States, one bumper sticker reads: “I vote that we give up!”  In studying the first three Parashios of the Torah, we find that a cornerstone of the Torah’s teaching is to absolutely and unequivocally perish the thought of ‘giving up’.  Adam, after sinning and being exiled from Gan Eden, had the courage and determination to have another child--Shes--whose descendant, Noach, is the progenitor of mankind forever.  Kayin, after his dreadful sin, demonstrates the willpower and resolve to do Teshuva as well. [According to one Midrash, he then lived even longer than Mesushelach!]  Noach’s fortitude and perseverance before, during, and after the Flood, saves not only mankind--but the entire world--from extinction.  Avrohom Avinu is ridiculed and degraded even by his own father, thrown into a fiery furnace, and told by Hashem to leave his country to a land inhabited by the descendants of the cursed Cham.  Nevertheless, his love, dedication, and purpose lead even Cham’s descendants to eventually refer to him as the “Nesi Elokim--the prince of Hashem.”

 

At this time, there are those who could feel depressed, or at least dejected, or down on themselves.  After all, Yom Tov was over two weeks ago, the terror situation worldwide is an extremely difficult one, and many seem to be back to the same drudgery without visible signs of improvement.  The Torah, in these Parashios, however, shows how much, much greater obstacles were overcome by those who met the individual challenges that faced them.  What is needed is the fortitude to keep the Kabalos that we thought of or made and an uplifted spiritual state at least in some way, such as when reciting Shemone Esrei or Brachos during the day.

 

If your plan as to how this year would be different needs some tweaking, or perhaps a real adjustment or even a change, now is the time to focus and fix, so that the rest of the year can be, quite literally, elevated, successful and full of achievement.  Remember--in all events--keep the written record!

 

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7 Marcheshvan

FLOODWATERS:  As seen in last week’s Haftarah, the floodwaters described in the Parasha are sometimes called “Mei Noach--the waters of Noach”.  In some sense, Noach was held accountable for not bringing his generation with him to Teshuva, and so the punishing waters are titled with his name. In order to better understand this concept, we provide the following Mashal  adapted from the Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar Ahavas Hashem, Chapter 6), which is brought by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (“Love Your Neighbor”, p. 34):

 

“Two businessmen come to a particular fair at the same time.  One has merchandise which cost him $10, marks it up 10 times, and sells it for $100.  He makes $90 clear profit!  The second businessman has merchandise which cost him $5,000.  He marks it up only two times, and sells it for $10, 000, leaving him with a profit of $5,000.  Although the second businessman’s percentage of profit was 8 times less than that of the first, he earned $5,000.00, as opposed to $90.”

 

This parable illustrates that someone’s improvement of only himself will pale in comparison to the one who improves himself and others, for his merits are increased by the merits of everyone else that he has improved.  We should try to make an effort to help someone else (even a family member) with a Halacha or Torah thought to benefit from everyday--let the new merchandise continue to flow in!

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LEAVING CONFUSION:  The Imrei Pinchas writes that: “...until Parashas Lech Lecha when we learn of Avrohom Avinu and his deeds, the world is in a state of confusion and disturbance.  With Parashas Lech Lecha, the chesed of Avrohom Avinu is aroused, and Yeshuos begin to occur....”  May we experience and see them all around us!

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FROM A READER: “In response to why there is no mention of Malchus in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei, I have the following thought: When mentioning “Elokeinu Melech Ha’olam” we are establishing Hashem as our King, and therefore we are establishing a direct relationship between ourselves and Hashem – he is our King, we are the subject.  This works in most instances.  However, in the first bracha, we are establishing a different relationship, perhaps because we might be considered unworthy recipients of the requests that will be coming soon.  Instead, we say to consider us through the prism of the Avos and not directly.  Consider us as a “child of Avrohom” as opposed to a “subject of Hashem”.

 

Perhaps that even addresses the other question of referring to “Yaakov” instead of “Yisrael”.  “Yisrael” is the national presence of “Yaakov”, but it is the deeds of the individual Yaakov that earned him the merit of the name Yisrael, and it is that merit that we seek to invoke in the first bracha.”

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TODAY--7 MARCHESHVAN:

 

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

 

2. Is the Yahrzeit of R’ Yosef Rosenberger, Z’tl, R’ Yosef ben R’ Moshe Halevi-the founder of the Shatnez labs in the United States. He spread the mitzvah of checking for Shatnez in America. Because he spent so much promoting this Mitzvah, he gave up of his learning time, and he specifically asked that people learn Mishnayos as a zechus for him.

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CHODOSH HOTLINE: As Chodosh becomes more of an issue until Pesach, we provide the Chodosh Hotline phone number for news, questions, literature, and use of the bulletin board system, please call the Chodosh Hotline--718-305-5133.

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BECHOL MAKOM: Chazal (Avos 3:7) teach that when one person sits and engages in Torah study, the Shechinah will rest upon him, as the Pasuk states: “Bechol Makom Asher Azkir Es Shemi Avo Eilecha U’veirachticha--in every place in which I cause My name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.” (Shemos 20:21). When one is studying Torah he should appreciate and revel in the fact that the Shechinah itself especially rests upon him in this zechus alone!

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BRACHOS FOR ADDITIONAL NEEDSOne may be required to take care of his bodily needs more often in connection with preparation for a medical examination such as a colonoscopy, so that his body can be examined totally clear of waste. If one knows that after taking medically prescribed laxatives he will have to take care of his needs several times in the coming hours, should he nevertheless recite Asher Yatzar after each occurrence?  We posed the question to Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brachos, who advised that although there is another view, we follow the Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 7, seif katan 2), who writes that, unless one feels that he will need to take care of his needs immediately again, the minhag is to follow the opinion that one should recite a bracha after each occurrence. Since there is a minhag to do so, we do not invoke the rule of sofek brochos l’hakel (Birkei Yosef).

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ONE ADDITIONAL NOTE ON BRACHOS:  At the outset of this week’s Parasha, Hashem advises Avrohom Avinu:  “Va’avarecha Mevorechecha (Bereishis 12:3)--and I will bless those who bless you.”  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita in Love Your Neighbor (p.44) explains: “When the Torah states that Hashem will bless “those who bless you” it refers not only to someone who blesses Avrohom, but also to one who blesses a descendant of Avrohom (Chulin 49A and Tosfos there). Accordingly, Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein teaches that when you bless another person, you merely offer a few words, in return for which Hashem gives you bountiful blessings.  Remember-when you greet a fellow Jew with a cheery “Good Morning” or “Good Night” you are blessing him, and you will be blessed.  Don’t merely mumble the words.  Be sincere and keep in mind that in essence you are saying, “I pray that you have a good morning!”

 

Hakhel Note:  May the beautiful brachos flow--in all ways and in all directions!

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KEEP IT IN MIND!  We all know that Hashem established this world on a Middah K’neged Middah basis--and indeed this is one of the most basic rules of how this world operates. At first glance, it may appear curious then, that the punishment for Lashon Hara is tzora’as --leprosy, a punishment which could affect up to the entire exterior body or any part thereof--but with the mouth itself apparently unaffected! What happened to Middah K’neged Middah here? The answer is obvious--but nevertheless startling.  Because a human being is distinguished by his  being a Ruach Memalelah--a thinking, speaking being--if he does not properly display that distinction and is careless (not being careful enough in this context is careless) with this power--then he has adversely affected his ENTIRE BEING--and this is why he receives a warning and punishment which affects his whole body. So explains the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim adds that even if in our day when tzora’as is not visible on our physical bodies--it nevertheless can still be inflicted on our souls--and without the proper Teshuva, this tzora’as will be self-evident in Olam Haba--as a world which is only soul without body. Nobody, but nobody would want that--especially when one can then enjoy the eternal blissful results of positive and pleasant speech.  In doubt as to whether you can say something and how to say it? The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline is the free service that you should keep at your fingertips:  718-951-3696, 9pm to 10:30pm New York City time. It is the thought--and the speech--that counts!

 

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6 Marcheshvan

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

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

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

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ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ON MARCHESHVAN: As noted in the past, Marcheshvan may very well be one word. Some, however, write that Mar is a separate word indicating that it is only currently Mar (meaning either bitter, or the contrary of what it should be) because there is currently no Yom Tov or public day of celebration during the month of Cheshvan, and that this will be rectified--as when the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt there will be a Yom Tov of rededication in this month--may it be literally this month!  Others write that the term Mar refers to water, and that it indicates the blessing of the month--rainfall for the Parnassah of the world.  Indeed, in Eretz Yisrael, the recitation of V’Sein Tal U’Matar Livracha will begin in just a few days.  We may suggest another possible meaning to Mar.  In Parashas Bereishis, Hashem told Kayin (Bereishis 4:7):  “‘‘‘...lapessach chatas rovetzveattah timshol bo--sin rests at the door, its desire is turned towards you, yet you can conquer it.”  Rashi (ibid.) explains:  “Im Tirtzeh Tisgaber Alav--if you want to, you will be able to rule over it.”  Chazal use the word ‘Mar’ to means master.  We are being reminded all month that the ‘theory’ of Tishrei can truly be put into practice in the next month--and that we can truly be the master over the Yetzer Hara--beginning in MarCheshvan--and forever thereafter! 

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CHOCHMA! Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Koheles (2:12) that HeChochom Einav B’Rosho--the wise man’s eyes are in his head. The Meforshim explain that a wise man thinks about the consequences of his proposed actions--and acts accordingly.

 

Hakhel Note: Let us learn what wisdom is from the wisest!

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HOW DO YOU EAT? As we move further away from the Yomim Noraim, and perhaps treat ourselves in a less restrictive manner, we should be vigilant over how we conduct ourselves when eating--the way our brachos are recited, our manner of eating--and our manners! Remember-Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Somid applies at the kitchen or dining room table as well!

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KASHRUS ALERTS FROM THE COR OF DETROIT:

 

1. Kashi Cereals: Some varieties of cereal have changed status from plain OU (i.e., pareve) to OU-D. Each box should be checked. -  Currently, all Kashi cereals that bear OU-D are DE (dairy equipment) status. (This refers only to Kashi cereals; not to other Kashi products.) Products manufactured on dairy equipment may be eaten after meat without a waiting period, but not with meat. - The OU cautions that even where it states that a product is DE, the OU does not supervise the cleaning of the equipment between dairy and non-dairy productions. - Please note that cereals are subject to frequent reformulations. It is therefore recommended that consumers check for dairy in the ingredient listing on every purchase, and also to contact the OU office at 212-613-8241 or kosherq@ou.org every three months to reconfirm the DE status.

 

2. California Delight Precooked Corn on The Cob with expiration 08-15-17 was found to be infested and was removed from stores. Consumers may return the product to the store for a refund.

 

3. Kosher / Non-Kosher Candy Assortments: Many Variety bags of assorted individually wrapped candies now in stores contain a mixture of Kosher and non-Kosher candies. The Kashrus status of each type should be carefully checked.

 

Consumers should be aware that some of these assortments bear an OU or OU-D on the back of the bag after the ingredient listings of the Kosher varieties. This can lead to confusion among shoppers who do not discern that the OU symbol refers only to that particular variety, and not to the entire contents of the bag.

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CARRY IT WITH YOU! In this week’s Parasha, Avrohom Avinu is commanded in the Mitzvah of Bris Milah. It is an Eis Ratzon to daven at the time that the baby cries and B’EH all of the cries go up to Shomayim together. Accordingly, for those who do not have them, we once again provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/c3kcn6k two printed Tefillos that have been distributed relating to a bris. In addition, one should recite the Chapter of Tehillim which mentions the word Sheminis in it. Some say this is Tehillim Chapter 6, and others Tehillim Chapter 12. If you can--perhaps say both!

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CONVENIENCE? As we proceed through the day--we see Mitzvah opportunities presented to us constantly. Most of us will not let the opportunity pass--recognizing the Hashgacha Pratis and its performance an everlasting ‘added value’ to oneself and to the world. There is, however, the more advanced question: How will the Mitzvah be performed--in a manner which is most convenient to the performer, or in a way especially intended to give Nachas Ruach to Hashem. We may term this ‘Qualitative Mitzvah Performance’--a part and parcel of our Best Behavior so very much called for in our times.

 

Hakhel Note:  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel L’Refuah Sheleimah) teaches that from the Pasuk Yehi Chevod Hashem L’Olam Yismach Hashem B’Ma’asav which we recite daily (Tehillim 104:31)--we learn that the way you can tell you have given Kavod to Hashem--is by acting in a way in which Hashem will be happy with your actions!

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REFOCUS ON THE FIRST BRACHA!  In honor of our new encounters with Avrohom Avinu beginning in this week’s Parasha, we should focus anew on the first bracha of Shemone Esrei--known as Birchas Avos.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 112:2) writes that this bracha actually originated when Avrohom Avinu was saved from the fiery furnace of Ur Kasdim--and was actually then recited by the Malachei HaShareis!  The Aruch HaShulchan also brings from the Tur (Orach Chaim 113) that the exact number of words of this bracha is 42 (obviously corresponding to the 42-letter name of Hashem referred to in Kiddushin 71A--which is also strongly alluded to in the 42 words of the “Anah BeChoach” Tefillah recited near the culmination of Karbanos and immediately before greeting Shabbos at Lecha Dodi--in fact, this allusion to the name of Hashem may be the reason that Ana BeChoach concludes with Baruch Shem Kevod).  Let us focus--42 words corresponding to the 42 letters--we must appreciate the weightiness of each word, for if one letter is missing, the name is not fully complete!

 

Several other important points about the first [the ‘Av’] bracha of Shemone Esrei:

 

1.  Why do we bow down as we begin Shemone Esrei?  The Anaf Yosef cites the following cogent explanations:  (a) the bowing reminds us before Whom we stand; (b) our looking down serves as a reminder as to where a person goes after 120 years; and (c) lowering the body alludes to your goal to bring the brachos from the heavens above down to the world below.

 

2.  This bracha begins with the customary words of Baruch Atta Hashem Elokeinu but then seems to be “missing” the important reference to Malchus--that Hashem is Melech HaOlam--Ruler of the World.  After all, did not Avrohom Avinu publicize Hashem’s rulership over the world to everybody? Why is it not here?  Your thoughts are welcome.

 

3.  Hashem is referred to in this bracha as “Elokei Yaakov.”  However, once Hashem Himself changed Yaakov’s name to Yisrael (Bereishis 35:10 and Rashi there)--and we ourselves are referred to as the B’nai Yisrael and K’lal Yisrael--why does not the bracha also refer to Hashem as Elokei Yisrael?  Your thoughts are welcome.

 

4.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked why the words “Gomel Chasodim Tovim” are not, so to speak, redundant--after all, is there a Chesed which is not Tov--which is not good?  He responded that there, in fact, is, for a chesed could result in something good for one person, but have a detrimental effect on someone else.  Only Hashem can micromanage the billions of factors necessary for a chesed to be 100% good --when necessary--for each and every one of His creations!

 

5.  What does the term “Zocher Chasdei Avos” mean--what Chesed is Hashem remembering--is it: (a) the Chesed that Hashem promised that He would do for the Avos and their children--or, (b) to the contrary, is He remembering the “Chesed” not that He performed, but that our Avos performed in making Hashem’s Name [see the reference to 42 letter name of Hashem within the bracha mentioned earlier] known in the world, or (c) perhaps are we simply referring to the great acts of Chesed performed by our Avos to other people in the world--all of which accrues to the merit of their descendants for 2,000 generations (Shemos 34:7--Notzer Chesed La’alaphim is one of the 13 Middos of Hashem).  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, holds that it is referring to Zechus Avos (see Tosfos to Shabbos 55A).  The Meshech Chochma writes that it refers to the Chesed that Hashem did to the Avos--and our awareness that for this reason He will do Chesed to their children, as well.  From this simple phrase, we can see how multi-faceted, how broad and penetrating, these holy words are--and how careful we must be in their recitation!

 

6. A reader had once written us: “I get tremendous chizuk every day when, in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei, I recite the words ‘LeMa’an Shemo B’Ahava--that Hashem will redeem us for the sake of His name with love.” As a parent, I know that I do things for my children even when they are undeserving. I do it out of love. This means that Hashem can redeem us even though we are undeserving--at any moment! I love the word B’Ahava!”

 

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3 Marcheshvan

FINAL CALL! All of the personal accounts, all of the cheshbonos, that we said we would settle, that we would pay, that we would take care of after the Yomim Tovim, should…now be taken care of!

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MARCHESHVAN! The Rebbi of Rozhin, Rebbi Yisroel, Z’tl, teaches that the word Marcheshvan comes from the phrase of Chazal ‘Merachshi Sefasaihu’--their lips are moving, for our lips should still be moving in Tefillah from the Yomim Noraim! The Luach Davar BeIto adds, however, that according to the Nusach Teiman, the correct pronunciation of this month is Merachshevan.

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ASHER YATZAR! In last week’s Parasha, we learn of the creation of man. Every day, B’EH several times a day, we recite the bracha of Asher Yatzar Es Ha’adam Bechocma…. With specially dedicated Kavannah in this bracha--we can demonstrate our Emunah in Hashem as the Creator of the world, and the One Who watches over us with loving Hashgacha Pratis on a daily basis!

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WINTER CLOTHING!  As we move closer to winter across the Northern Hemisphere, many may be purchasing jackets and coats (with linings), sweaters, vests and winter hats.  We caution the need to properly check for Shatnez any item whose constitution is in any matter doubtful, and especially one that comes from China, or which has a label which does not appear accurate or complete.  Let us feel not only physically warm--but spiritually warm--with the clothes that we are wearing!  Hakhel Note: Whenever we provide Shatnez alerts, we ask that you review them seriously, and share them with others.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: In many Siddurim it is brought that as one takes leave of his Shul in the morning after Shacharis, the final Pasuk he should say is “V’Noach Matzah Chein B’Einei Hashem”. Why do you think this is so?

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WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:

 

A. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 262:3) writes VeYismach BeVias Shabbos KeYotzeh Likras HaMelech U’KeYotzei Likras Chosson VeKallah--let us truly appreciate the happiness anew--each and every Erev Shabbos!

 

B.  This Shabbos we have the special opportunity of reciting one of the zemiros which emanate from the Parasha. “Yom Shabboson Ain Lishkoach”--which contains the words Yonah Matzah Vo Manoach…and concludes with the words “Ka’asher Nishbata Al Mai Noach”. There are three explanations for the term yonah in this zimra. One is that it refers to the Shechina. A second is that it refers to K’lal Yisrael--but a third is that it very much refers to the yonah in this week’s Parasha. Indeed, the outstanding Mesivta Zemiros brings from the Pardes Yosef that the yonah from Noach’s teivah could only find a place to rest in Gan Eden, and that it happened on Shabbos! Hakhel Note: The depths of our Shabbos zemiros is truly brought to the fore by the Mesivta Zemiros. One can take just one zimra a week and study it a bit more on Shabbos to understand how significant and meaningful it truly is!

 

C.  The following pesokim are excerpted from Volume 2 of the Sefer LeHalacha, by Rabbi Aharon Reichman, Shlita:

 

1.  One may need to take a frozen challah out of the freezer and to warm it up for use as Lechem Mishna, and as part of the Shabbos meal.  This, of course, involves issues of Borer, moving Muktzah, and Bishul.  If the freezer shelf in which the challahs are found contain other items in close proximity, so that each item does not appear particularly ordered, the first issue--Borer arises.  If one takes challah out of the freezer in order to use within one-half hour of the meal, and does not have to remove the other non-challah items from the freezer in order to get to the challah, then he has fulfilled the permissible conditions of Borer.  If one does have to move other items in order to get to the challah, there are Poskim who would permit their removal, if the challah will be used within one-half hour of the meal --for, as there is no other way to get to the challah, it would be considered like removing the peel of a fruit (or the wrapper on a candy), which is permissible immediately prior to consumption-even though it is removing the pesoles from the ochel .  If the challah will not be able to defrost within one half hour, HaRav Reichman writes that there are Poskim who rule that one has up to an hour (obviously totally negating the possibility of taking out the challahs at night for the day meal when an act of Borer would be involved) to use the challah after the act of Borer has been performed, but one should only rely on this ruling in a time of necessity--otherwise up to one-half hour before the meal is the permissible time frame.  Before Shabbos, one should remove any muktzah items which may be in the freezer (uncooked fish, flour, etc.) which may block the challah; however, if one has not done, he should move the muktzah items kilachari yad (with his elbows, arms, or indirectly through an item that is not muktzah).  As far as warming up the challah: If it has no ice crystals or water on it, one may warm it by placing it on top of a pot on the blech, or on top of any other object which serves as a separation between a hot plate or blech, and the challah.  If there are ice crystals on the challah, or if it has water or melted ice crystals, it should not be warmed in a place where it could reach ‘yad soledes bo’, unless one removes or dries off the challah first. 

 

 2.  One can open up a small sugar packet on Shabbos when one throws the empty packet away immediately, provided that he is careful not to rip any of the letters while opening.  There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether one may rip along the line that is marked ‘tear here’.  HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, prohibits it, based upon the melacha of mechatech, while HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, permits it, ruling that the person who tears along such a line does so only for convenience, so that the sugar should not spill and not because he means to carefully cut the packet, which also has no inherent worth. For a larger bag or box of sugar, however, some Poskim hold that one cannot open it unless he rips the bag, and empties all of its contents into another container.  Others hold that one need not empty the contents.  Finally, as far as opening covers on lebens and cheese packages, it is best to take them off in a destructive manner. However, one should be careful not to rip any words or letters.

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WE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING NOTES ON THE PARASHA: 

 

A.  The Mabul described in tomorrow’s Parasha is sometimes referred to as the “Mai Noach”--the flood waters of Noach.  We could understand that the Teivah would be known as Noach’s Ark, but why would the flood waters be known by Noach’s name?  Shouldn’t it instead be attributed to the sinful people at that time?  After all--the flood was their fault-not Noach’s!  The Maharsha explains that Noach is, in a sense, held responsible for the flood because he did not do everything in his power to save his generation.  Obviously, he did a lot--building a Teivah for all those years, and undoubtedly subjecting himself to ridicule, intimidation and threats.   The conclusion:  Sometimes we don’t realize that we can really--and should--do more.  Practical Suggestion: When it comes to the health, safety, and welfare of others, we should try to do something more than we think that we are capable of.  In fact, this was the path of Avrohom Avinu who was ill and elderly, yet searched outside in a heat wave in order to help others--and to teach those of us in future generations how to behave!

 

B.  The Sefer Derech Sicha, based upon the teachings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Volume 2, p. 10) explains that Noach did not daven for the people of his generation to be saved because he felt that it was only through the beneficence of Hashem that he himself would be saved, so it would be inappropriate to ask Hashem that others be saved as well.  This is similar to the concept of “Ayn Oreach Machnis Oreach--one guest should not invite another guest” on his own volition.  Nevertheless, Noach was criticized for not davening for the people.  As noted in the past, HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, gives the explanation as to why, based upon the following incident (which we have reported in the past):  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, once related that a Karlin Chosid had the occasion to spend Shabbos in Vienna with the Chortkover Chassidim.  The Karlin Chassidim recite the davening very loudly, and the Chortkover Chassidim, softly and calmly.  The Karlin Chassid asked the Chortkover Rebbe whether he could shout his davening, as was his tradition.  The Chortkover Rebbe responded that the Chortkov custom was not to daven loudly, and that he should adhere to this custom while davening with Chortkov.  The Karlin Chassid was able to adhere to the Rebbe’s ruling, and restrain himself through Kabalas Shabbos and the beginning of Shacharis on Shabbos, but when it came to Nishmas, he could no longer restrain himself and burst out the remainder of the davening, crying out with great fervor and intensity.  After Shabbos, he came to the Rebbe to ask his forgiveness, for he had violated the Rebbe’s ruling.  The Rebbe responded that he had nothing to ask forgiveness for, for the Rebbe had only prohibited him from crying out his regular Tefillos.  However, a Tefillah which is cried out from within, that is a different kind of Tefillah, and his ruling did not apply to that special kind of prayer.  Based upon this distinction between “Regular Tefillah” and “Aroused Tefillah,” HaRav Kanievsky explains Chazal’s teaching (Brachos 32B) that Tefillah is greater even than the bringing of Karbanos.  How could this be?  After all, the process of bringing a Korban involves many, many more mitzvos than Tefillah!  HaRav Kanievsky explains that yes, a Korbon is greater than Tefillah if one is praying because he is commanded to pray--for a Korbon involves so many more Mitzvos.  However, if one prays from the depths of his heart--crying out to Hashem with sincerity and feeling--this Aroused Tefillah, Chazal teach, is greater than the tens of Mitzvos accomplished by Karbanos!  Noach may have felt that his Tefillos could not save his generation, because they would have been inadequate to save even himself.  Nevertheless, the status of man and the World at the time--and what was going to happen to them--should have in all events brought him to that special, Aroused Tefillah which may have saved the generation!

 

C.  If the three great sins of the generation of the flood were Avoda Zarah, Gilui Arayos and Gezel--why would the seemingly least heinous of the three--Gezel--be the decisive factor to Hashem in bringing the flood?  Many have provided important insights here.  A particularly practical lesson is that the victim of Gezel will cry out--and, as the Torah records elsewhere:  “...it will be when they cry out to Me, I will surely listen to the cries.”  Something to avoid at all costs is someone (even if a parent, spouse or child) who has a ta’anah against you--someone who will cry out or complain--for even if your fault pales in significance to other, ostensibly more serious aveiros, Hashem takes into special account the hurt and cries of others-- just as you would expect Him, as your Father in Heaven, to take your hurt and cries into account as well.  Hashem will deal with the inanity of idol worship as He sees fit--but will not allow the pain of others to go unanswered.  This lesson is so important--that it is taught even before we get to the Avos!

  

D.  The Chofetz Chaim points to the oreiv being unable to serve as the shaliach on Noach’s mission--and being replaced by the Yonah instead.  Not everyone is capable of, or right for, a particular job, and not always should one send a shaliach if the job is best left done by himself.  The next time one asks someone to do something for him or sends someone on a mission, he should think about whether the decision not to do it by himself is really warranted (is it laziness?), and whether the other person is the right person for the job (will they be embarrassed, will someone else possibly suffer, is there someone else who should be doing it but for an ulterior motive…).  Most certainly when it comes to Mitzvos, a halachic principle that must be considered is Mitzva Bo Yosair MiBeShelucho--it is better for YOU to do the Mitzvah then ‘be mezakeh’--find someone else--to do it. It is said about the Steipeler that he did not ask anyone (even his children) to do anything for him unless he could not do it himself--we may not be on this madreiga, but perhaps we can at least consider it in our decision-making process!

 

E.  After Noach leaves the Teivah, the Posuk records “Vayevareich Elokim Es Noach…--Hashem blessed Noach and his children” (Bereishis 9:1).  Promptly thereafter, the Posuk records that Noach began his activities after the Mabul by planting a vineyard.  The bracha that he had just received was thus chal, first-placed, on a vine--leading him to become drunk.  Oh!  If only Noach had taken the bracha and used his first opportunity in a great way for the world’s (or at least his own) benefit--how much better off he and the world would have been!  We can take great note of this in our everyday lives.  When receiving a bracha from someone--we should not let it go by without immediately letting it be chal--rest upon--something important.  For example, after the bracha--open a Sefer and learn, try to make a Shidduch, or try performing a Mitzvah you have had particular Nisyonos within the past--and hope that the bracha will elevate and uplift you to a new and greater height!  (HaRav Itzele Volozhiner, Z’tl).

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KIDDUSH LEVANA:   This Motza’ei Shabbos, many will be reciting Kiddush Levana around the globe.  The Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 426: seif katan 4) quotes from the Sefer Maggid Meisharim (the Malach who learned with the Bais Yosef), which states that those who recite Kiddush Levana on Motza’ei Shabbos will find Hatzlacha--Timtze’u Hatzlacha-- in the coming month!

 

We provide the following additional reminders relating to Kiddush Levana:

 

1.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky (Derech Sicha I,  p.44) teaches that for a toothache, it is a “segula mikadmonim--a segula from early generations”--which is also brought in the Siddur Bais Yaakov of HaRav Yaakov Emden, to add several words in Kiddush Levana at the right moment. After the words that one usually recites “Kach Lo Yuchlu Kol Oivai Lingoa Bee LeRoa--so should my enemies not hurt me”, one should immediately add “VeLo Yehiye Lee Ke’aiv Shinayim--and I should no longer have a toothache.” HaRav Kanievsky advises that his father, the Steipeler, recited this Nusach on his own behalf, and on behalf of others. Once, HaRav Kanievsky’s mother had a toothache, and the Steipeler felt badly, telling her, “I wish I had known before I recited Kiddush Levana!” Here is a real and simple opportunity to try to help others!

 

2.  If one makes Kiddush Levana outside of shul in an urban area, care must be taken that one is not within close proximity to trash or trash containers from local homes, apartment buildings or stores, all of which can be assumed to contain unclean matter.  Moreover, any dovor hamasriach (item which emits a foul, spoiling odor) would have the din of unclean matter (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 79:8, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 29). We observed a group of individuals reciting Kiddush Levana outside of their shul and in front of the garbage of a grocery store containing smelly spoiled fruit which would seem to fall within this prohibition.

 

3. In addition when reciting Kiddush Levana, one should be careful not to be facing passersby on the street, as they may not be properly dressed--even at this time of year! (Orach Chayim 75).

 

4. The Rema (Orach Chayim 426:2) writes that Kiddush Levana, contains the yesod of K’nesses Yisrael reuniting with Hakodesh Boruch Hu “...and therefore we perform joyous acts and dance at Kiddush Levana, as at a simchas nesuin.”   Hakhel Note: Accordingly, one should be careful to perform the Mitzvah of Kiddush Levana with joy, and in a place where he can properly exhibit his joy!

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FROM A SIMCHA MINUTE We provide the following few quotations from Simcha Minute, a booklet of inspiriting quotations of HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, as collected from the SimchaMinute daily email.  To subscribe to the SimchaMinute daily email (free), go to: www.bit.ly/smsefer:

 

1.  Is it enough to believe in Hashem with simple faith?  HaRav Miller: “The appeal to simple faith (Emunah Peshutah) is usually an excuse to do nothing. Without effort there is no belief, awareness or understanding.” (Awake, My Glory)

 

2.  What role do others play in our quest for greatness?  HaRav Miller: “Your generation is your world.  It is your sole opportunity.  One’s parents, one’s brothers and sisters, one’s kin, one’s wife, one’s children, one’s neighbors and employers and employees: are all his opportunities.  To fritter it away is the greatest of catastrophes.  By his relations with them he gains the success for which he came into the world.” (Sing, You Righteous)

 

3.  Where do we find an easy opportunity to be blessed?  HaRav Miller: “Bless your fellow Jews and you’ll be blessed.  It costs you money? It doesn’t cost you a penny.  And it’s such a good investment that you’re promised a bracha.  It seems so wild, so insane to lose the opportunity to bless your fellow Jew.”  (Tape #93, Ten Easy Ways to Gain Real Wealth)

 

4.  Is there area of power that Hashem has endowed to people?  HaRav Miller: “The freedom to choose (bechira) is truly miraculous.  It is the one area in the entire universe in which Hashem has given authority to man.” (Ohr Avigdor, Sha’ar Habechinah)

 

5.  Does merely reading the Torah change a person? HaRav Miller:  “Torah is a living entity.  The letters of the Torah affect our lives, affect history, and affect our character.  Merely by reading the Torah from “Bereishis--In the beginning” until the last words, “L’einei Kol Yisrael--before the eyes of all Israel,” we effect change in the atmosphere, in the course of Jewish history, our characters, and our lives. (Tape # 6, Evil of Confusion)

 

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2 Marcheshvan

ALMOST 10%: As we have completed the month of Tishrei, we note that 8 1/3% of the year has passed…but that more than 90% of the year remains! We have much time to become better and better. Let us resolve to keep up with our Kabbalos--and slowly and steadily improve as the year continues!

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BEREISHIS 3:7: The Pasuk in last week’s Parasha records that: “Vatipakachna Einei Sheneihem Vayeideu Ki Arumim Heim”. Fascinatingly, Rashi (ibid.) writes that the eyes that were opened refer to wisdom and not to actual sight. We suggest that it is no coincidence that in the Birchos HaShachar every morning we recite the bracha of “Pokeiach Ivrim”, and immediately follow with the bracha of Malbish Arumim--following the sequence of the Pasuk. Thus, in addition to the Kavannah of  thanking Hashem for giving us the miraculous ability of sight every day, we should recognize that Pokeiach Ivrim is also a bracha thanking Hashem for our powers of wisdom and discernment. Then, without Hashem as our Malbish Arumim, we would very literally be embarrassed in the eyes of each and every human being and creature.

 

Hakhel Note: How meaningful and powerful our Birchos HaShachar really are!

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IMPORTANT ITEMS FOR THE TIMES WE ARE IN:

 

1. We provide by the following links the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  (Hebrew version) and  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq  (English version). If not now--when?

 

2. Let us continue our ‘Best Behavior’ attitude and approach. Once again, if not now--when?

 

3. The phrase that is commonly utilized for us to improve is to ‘increase our Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim’. What is the difference between Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim--when are Ma’asim Tovim not Mitzvos? We await your responses.

 

4. We have been advised that the wording contained in texting (and the inferences that may be drawn from communications made in this manner) may readily constitute Lashon Hara. Accordingly, as a new personal cell phone takana, one should especially consider his communications while texting.

 

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THE LONGEST BRACHA:  Which is the longest bracha in Shemone Esrei?  Why do you think this is so?  How many Shaimos are in it--and how many Shaimos does the Tzibbur recite when responding to this bracha during Chazaras HaShatz?

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MORE THAN JUST THANK YOU!  A Rav pointed out to us that when one expresses his Hakaras HaTov to another by saying “Yasher Kochachem”--then he is not just saying “thank you”--but also giving an appreciative bracha to the one who has just acted kindly towards him.  They may both be just two words--but there is a great difference between them.  Of course, using both phrases “Todah Raba/thank you” and “Yasher Kochachem” could really be most appropriate under the circumstances. 

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TEFILLAH SHAILOS:  We provide below several Shailos relating to Tefillah asked of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, together with his Teshuvos, as presented in the Sefer Peninei Tefillah by Rav Benzion HaKohen Kook, Shlita.  In order to review the hundreds of Shailos and Inyanim presented in this wonderful Sefer (in Hebrew), we refer you to your local seforim store for purchase:

 

1.  Q.  If one had kavannah when reciting the first pasuk of Shema to accept upon himself Ohl Malchus Shomayim and for the meaning of the words, but had some other thoughts in between the words, has he fulfilled the Mitzvah of Shema?

 

A.  No, this is not considered to be proper kavannah, and one must repeat the entire pasuk over again.

 

2.  Q.  The Vilna Gaon writes that one should daven for the tzibbur only when he is davening Shemone Esrei, and that he should daven for his own needs in Elokai Netzor.  Can’t one daven for himself in the brachos of Shemone Esrei?

 

A.  The entire Shemone Esrei is recited in the plural, because it is a tefillah for the tzibbur--as it was instituted based upon the Korban Tomid, which is a korban tzibbur.  When one intends to daven only for himself, it would be in Elokai Netzor, but if he intends to daven for himself “besoch”--among--the tzibbur, it is permitted even within the brachos of Shemone Esrei.

 

3.  Q.  Is it permitted to repeat words within a bracha of Shemone Esrei, if you feel that you have not recited them with kavannah?

 

A.  Yes, within the bracha.

 

4.  Q.  Can one teach and exchange words of Torah with a non-observant person, as he has not recited Birchas HaTorah?

 

A.  It is better if you have him recite it (or make the bracha for him, and have him be yotzei with your bracha), but if he has not, you can still study with him.  This is because Birchas HaTorah is not like Birchas HaNehenin--it is not forbidden to learn if you have not recited Birchas HaTorah.  Rather, it is simply a Mitzvah to make the bracha before learning.  In no event should one allow the non-observant person to make the bracha himself without a head covering, as this constitutes a zilzul bracha.

 

5.  Q.  After one sleeps at night in an airplane seat, does he make Birchas HaTorah the next morning?

 

A.  Yes, although he did not sleep in a bed, it is considered his “shainas keva”--his regular sleep for the evening.

 

6.  Q.  Is it permissible to drink coffee with milk and sugar, tea and sugar, or juice, before Shacharis?

 

A.  Yes, if there is some need to do so (such as to wake oneself up, etc.).  The Mishna Berurah had disapproved of the practice, only because drinking practices were then different, and it was then considered a “derech ga’avah” to do so before davening.

 

7.  Q.  If one reached his hand into the bathroom in order to close the bathroom door, does he have to wash his hands as a “yotzei mibeis hakisei” because of ruach ra’ah (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 4, Mishna Berurah seif katan 40)?

 

A.  No, the mere presence of his hand in the beis hakisei there does not render him a “yotzei mibeis hakisei”.

 

8.  Q.  In order to be grammatically correct, should women and girls say “Moda Ani” rather than “Modeh Ani” in the morning when awakening, and in the bracha of Elokai Neshama?

 

A.  No, they should do as their “savtas” did.  We don’t change nuscha’os.

   

9.  Q.  If one is traveling on a bus and needs to daven, must he get off in order to stand for Shemone Esrei, or can he daven from his seat?

 

  A.  On an intra-city bus, one should descend, daven and wait for another bus.  On an inter-city bus, where buses are not so prevalent, he may remain seated, if standing is inappropriate or will affect kavannah.  However, one should use aforethought when he needs to travel.  It is preferable to daven before sunrise at home while standing--then it is to daven after sunrise in a sitting position.  Even for someone who has difficulty standing for medical reasons--it is better to daven a shorter Shemone Esrei standing, than a longer Shemone Esrei sitting.  From the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 94:4,9), it is clear that standing is one of the “Ikarei HaTefillah”--one of the key aspects of Shemone Esrei!

 

10. Q. According to the Ramban, it is a Mitzvas Aseh to daven in an “eis tzarah--in a time of tzarah.”  What constitutes an “eis tzarah”?

 

A.  Any time that a person feels pain--health issues, financial matters, child rearing difficulties, even when feeling someone else’s pain.  There is no difference--pain is pain, and there is a Mitzvah to daven.

 

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1 Marcheshvan

REMINDER!--TESHUVA BECHOL YOM! Please remember our goal--Teshuvah Bechol Yom.  Please take a good look at your Kabalos Card--after all today is 30 days since Rosh Hashana!

 

Hakhel Note: We are obviously living in a time when we must be on our best behavior, for our especially dedicated good conduct will serve as a merit to Acheinu B’nei Yisrael, and…if and when the Moshiach does come today--one will be in an elevated Ruchniyus state! See Special Note One for an additional thought on this point.

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WELCOME TO A NEW MONTH HABA ALEINU L’TOVA:  The gematria of Marcheshvan (with the word), is in fact 611--the gematria of Torah.  Cheshvan, when written without nekudos, is spelled with two Vuvs and not one, so that it is not read as Cheshone, but Cheshvan. Check for yourself! One of our innovative readers wrote that if we take the second “Vuv” out of Mar Cheshvan and we don’t include the word as part of the gematria; the gematria becomes 604, which is the gematria of “Shas Gemara.”  This teaches us, our reader wrote,” that we must take the increased Torah commitment we made on Simchas Torah as we celebrated the completion of Torah She’Bichsav and also find opportunity to increase our learning of Torah She’Baal Peh!”

 

Hakhel Note: Here is a basic mathematics question for Torah Jews:  If a man studies three Mishnayos, or a man or woman studies three Halachos, after Mincha or Ma’ariv, or perhaps before retiring for the evening, every day in the year 5777, how many Mishnayos or Halachos will he have learned by the end of the Year?  A more advanced question--if, instead, one begins this study on the first day of Marcheshvan--one month after 5777 has begun, and undertakes the same study until the first day of Marcheshvan of 5777--how many Mishnayos or Halachos has one studied?

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A TZELEM ELOKIM REMINDER: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (2:3) provides a sure method in which we can remember Parashas Bereishis every day--”One should wash his face [in the morning upon rising] in honor of his Maker, as the Pasuk states, ‘Ki BeTzelem Elokim Asah Es Ha’adam--for man was made in the image of Hashem.”  The Kitzur then adds that one should also wash out his mouth, so that he can mention Hashem’s name in davening “BiKedusha U’VeTahara.”  What  a great lesson in how and why we rise in the morning--in comparison to the billions of others in the world who may undertake the same physical acts as us--but whose intentions are so, so different.  They simply want to feel and smell good--for themselves, and so as not to embarrass themselves among others--and it ends there.  We too care about personal hygiene--but with the refined focus that our bodily functions and needs have spiritual goals and  loftier intentions to attempt and achieve--a lifetime of accomplishment.  The splash of cold water on your cheeks, or the bright and fresh feeling in your mouth in the morning-- is, more importantly,  preparing you for a day of spiritual awareness, awakening, aspiration and accomplishment as well!

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MAN VS. ANIMAL:  The actions of Arab diabolical terrorists have demonstrated to the most heinous degree the nadir to which a Perah Adam sinks--could we ever have believed that the most animalist of animal would act this way? Every morning prior to reciting Pesukei DeZimra, in the Karbanos  section of davening, we recite the words with which we come close to concluding our Ne’ilah davening on Yom Kippur--”U’Mosar HaAdam Min HaBeheima Oyin, Ki HaKol Hevel--the pre-eminence of man over beast is ‘Ayin’-naught --for all is vanity....”  What is the Oyin to which we are referring?  For a simple peshat, one can refer to Koheles 3:19.  The Ba’alei Mussar, however, explain that the benefit of man over animal is our ability to respond Ayin--no-to the Yetzer Hara, which the animal world is not in the same position to do.  That is why Hashem told Kayin in last week’s Parasha--’V’Ata Timshol Bo’--it is your role, as a human being and not an animal--to rule over the ta’avos and temptations that face us.  Perhaps this is one way we can respond to the depraved murderers--by showing how human beings are supposed to act. We should be able to look back at our day and recall at least a few situations during the day in which we truly behaved as  human being--in which we consciously made the choice and decision--and exclaimed (even silently) ‘No--Ayin! I am--Baruch Hashem-- a human being!!’

 

Hakhel Note: HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, reported that he once heard from a soldier that for three days his platoon did not have any food, and when food was finally made available to them, no one grabbed, because they retained their self control and dignity. Torah Jews should view themselves as Hashem’s army and act with the same control and discipline--whether or not they have waited for three days to eat!

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KAVOD SHOMAYIM: We provide the following additional notes found in the Sefer Leket Reshimos (B’Inyanei Kavod Shomayim) from the teachings of HaRav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, Z’tl:

 

A. HaRav Wachtfogel related that before WWII, the President of Poland reached the Town of Mir, and was given a very honorable reception, with the Yeshiva itself going to greet him. When the Bochurim returned, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz asked them how the greeting was, and the students responded that it was very honorable. HaRav Yeruchem advised them that they did not show true respect. He explained why. Not long ago, the President also visited the nearby Town of Lechvitsch, and there he did not receive a royal welcome--but received true honor. How? Upon his arrival into the Town, a few people placed themselves down in front of his entourage, stopping it--advising that their relatives were up for the death penalty, and asked that a message be given to the President to commute the sentences. After some back and forth, the President did, indeed, commute the sentences. HaRav Yeruchem said that this was true honor--not praises, compliments and speeches--but a real demonstration of the President’s powers. With this, we can understand what Kavod Malchus Shomayim is--when we demonstrate that we realize that life and death is in the hands of Hashem Yisborach, and plead with Him. Until such time as we do not realize this and do so with feeling, it is not true Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. Hakhel Note: What a message for our times! 

 

B. Rashi (Vayikra 20:26) writes: “Hashem says: If you separate yourselves from the nations, you are Mine and if you do not then you will belong to Nevuchadnezzar and his friends.” Hakhel Note: Once again, let us take this message to heart in these times!

 

C. HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, Z’tl, would repeat in the name of his Rebbi, HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, that the ‘smallest Jew’ should aspire to be a gadol in his Torah practice. After all, did we not recite over Yom Tov: “Veshimcha HaGadol V’HaKadosh Aleinu Karasa”. If a person has this aspiration--then he will have a shaychus to Gadlus. One can be a Gadol in Ma’asim Tovim, in Midos Tovos, in Tzedaka…. The opportunity--and the obligation--is ours!

 

D. Geulah means Gadlus without limits and constraints. Galus by definition imposes constraints upon us. Chazal teach that we will be redeemed through Tzedakah. This is because through Tzedakah one goes beyond his personal boundaries and demonstrates his aspiring to Geulah.

 

E. The Navi Malachi (3:1) teaches: “U’pisom Yavo Ehl Heichalo Ha’adam Asher Atem Mevakshim--suddenly, Hashem Who you seek will come to His sanctuary”. We all understand that the word ‘Pisom’ means that it will happen suddently--at any moment. There is, however, a deeper understanding as well. That is, we cannot in any way now fathom the sudden bliss that the entire creation will experience with the Geulah. As the Navi (Yeshaya 35:10 and 55:12) teaches: “Even the trees will joyously clap and the mountains and hills will burst forth with song.” This will certainly happen--B’EH soon--but it will be experienced only by those who are the Mevakshim described by Malachi. If there is no bikush--then the great, ecstatic light will not be truly experienced. It is incumbent upon us to realize that we are currently the Ovdim B’Eretz Ashur and the Nidachim B’Eretz Mitzrayim (Yeshaya 27:13)--lost in Galus and cast aside by the nations of the world--and plead for the Shechina’s return to Tzion--Hashem’s Home where He rightfully belongs.

 

HaRav Wachtfogel concludes: We are all suffering through these excruciatingly painful throes of Chevlei Moshiach. We must realize that all of this great tza’ar will not last for a long time and will end. The days of Geulah will be upon us in the near future--let us be mevakshim, so that we are zoche to the great ecstasy and light of U’pisom Yavo Ehl Heichalo!

 

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30 Tishrei

POINTS AND POINTERS RELATING TO ROSH CHODESH, EXCERPTED FROM THE LUACH DAVAR B’ITO

 

1.  There are different customs as to the types of work that women do not perform on Rosh Chodesh.  Whatever is not performed by day should not be performed at night either, although others permit work at night. 

 

2.  According to the Tzava’ah of Rebbi Yehuda HaChassid, we do not cut our hair or our nails on Rosh Chodesh. 

 

3.  The special bracha for Mussaf on Rosh Chodesh begins with the words Roshei Chadashim LeAmecha, whose first letters spell ‘Rochel’, who established Tefillas Mussaf (Birkei Yosef 607:4)!

 

4.  Regarding the actual Seudah of Rosh Chodesh, there is a Mitzvah to be marbeh (increase) one’s Seudah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 419).  The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 1) adds that one who eats and drinks in a goodhearted manner is praiseworthy, and that just as one is repaid his expenses for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals, he is also repaid for his Rosh Chodesh repast as well.  If one increases his Seudah during the day, he need not do so in the evening.  One should try to have a special additional food which is LeKavod Rosh Chodesh.  In fact, ‘many Tzadikim’ have the custom of eating gefilte fish (as on Shabbos) on Rosh Chodesh.  The Sefer Ateres Tzvi brings that the Seudas Rosh Chodesh is a Segulah ‘Levatel Kol HaMachalos’--to rid oneself of all illnesses.

 

5.  There is an old Minhag on every Rosh Chodesh to learn one Pasuk (with at least the Peirush of Rashi) from the chapter in Tehillim which is the same number as one’s age.

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V’CHAI BAHEM! The Torah teaches (Vayikrah 18:5):  “U’Shemartem Es Chukosai V’Es Mishpatai Asher Ya’aseh Osam Ha’adam V’Chai Bahem--You shall observe My Chukos and laws which man shall carry out and by which he shall live.”  The Chofetz Chaim importantly notes that the Torah does not state V’Chai Avuram--you shall live to perform them, but rather V’Chai Bahem--which means that you will live in Olam HaBah through them.  Accordingly, just as a person would do all that he can in order to keep his arms, ears, legs healthy and in good working order in this world, so too should a person realize that his connection to eternal life is through the Mitzvos, and that the more wholesomely and completely the Mitzvos are performed, the more wholesome and complete will be one’s Chiyus, one’s life in Olam HaBa. This should provide us with an extra-special drive to rid ourselves of at least one Mitzvas Anashim Melumadah--Mitzvah done-by-rote, that we perform daily, and replace it with a sincere and inspired performance of that Mitzvah.  Examples:  In Tefillah--one place to start may be in one’s recitation of Pesukei D’Zimrah. In Torah--in the way one listens and interacts in a shiur he otherwise listens to or attends.  In Chesed--in attempting to perform at least one Chesed a day which has not been asked for, and is not expected. 

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KAVOD SHOMAYIM: The following notes are found in the Sefer Leket Reshimos (B’Inyanei Kavod Shomayim) from the teachings of HaRav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, Z’tl:

 

A. In Mitzrayim, we learned that water is only water by the word of Hashem, as water for some readily turned to blood. We also learned that even areas that are settled and areas of jungle are likewise determined by Hashem--as the arov trampled around Mitzrayim’s cities. At the Yam Suf, we learned that what is water and what is land is determined by Hashem, and in the Midbar we learned that water for millions could come out of a rock. As the Torah succinctly states, Ahl Pi Hashem Yachanu V’Ahl Pi Hashem Yisa’u--by the word of Hashem did we encamp, and by the word of Hashem did we travel (Bamidbar 9:23). In two words--Ein Teva--there is no such thing as nature!

 

B. The Ramchal teaches that if a person would constantly think, he would not sin, for a person knows what the ultimate truth really is. At the very least, a person should keep the concept of Ein Ohd Milevado close to his thoughts.

 

C. People believe that they have to work on Midos, such as patience, pleasantness and the like, and on performing more acts of Chesed--but they do not realize that they have to work on Emunah as well. They incorrectly believe that “I believe in Hashem as Creator and Supervisor of All”--but they do not think about the details of this when looking at the miracles of the past and the miracles of the present. We should realize that the Torah states: “Vidatem Ki Ani Hashem”--we have to work on knowing more and more about Hashem.

 

D. To the extent one honors his Rebbi, he has a Rebbi; to the extent one honors the Torah, he has Torah; and to the extent one honors Hashem, he ‘has’ Hashem.

 

E. It is also important to recognize Kavod Beis Haknesses and Beis HaMidrash. HaRav Wachtfogel was very careful not to enter the Beis Midrash with an overcoat. He once saw a shirt hanging on a window handle in the Beis Midrash, and spoke strongly about how important it is to recognize and apply Kavod to the Beis Hashem.

 

F. In last week’s Parasha, we learned that man was created B’Tzelem Elokim. The entire Torah can be summarized with the words: “Kavod Elokim V’Kavod Tzelem Elokim”. Everything else derives from this principle. Hakhel Note: HaRav Wachtfogel teaches that the cheit of Kayin in bringing an inferior Korban was that he did not display the proper Kavod to Hashem. This, then, lead to the next step of failure to provide proper Kavod to Hevel--to the point of Retzicha. We learn how far the lack of Kavod can take a person.

 

G. Every day, twice daily, we recite the words: “V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha Bechol Levavecha U’Vechol Nafshecha”, and we try to have Kavannah in these words. If a person wants to know how much Ahavas Hashem he really has, he should determine how much he disdains evil--and this will be the measure of his Ahavas Hashem--for Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 97:10): “Ohavei Hashem Sinu Rah--those who love Hashem hate evil”.

 

H. That which a person has he gives to others--if he has Torah, he shares his Torah; if he has money, he gives money; if he is honorable, he will give honor to others!

 

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AFTER SUKKOS--EMUNAH APPLIED!  As one Rav commented, perhaps we begin the Torah with Parashas Bereishis to teach us that there is a purpose for everyone’s life--and we are to take it from there.  It is fascinating that after Sukkos, in which we left our homes to demonstrate that we are under the shadow and protection of Hashem, we are immediately re-infused with the Emunah-filled Pesukim of Parashas Bereishis and Noach.  The following practical points on Emunah are excerpted from the Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Middos LeAvodas Hashem, Volume I):

 

A.  The Chofetz Chaim provides the following essential teaching:  “Bechol Davar SheAdam Oseh Tzarich Levakeish MeiHashem Sheyihiyeh Letoeles--in everything that a person does, he should ask Hashem that it serve a good purpose (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 230; Sha’ar HaTzion, seif katan 8).

 

B.  Moreover, when one davens prior to doing something, it is the equivalent of putting the Refuah ahead of the makah--opening wide the proper and appropriate path in which to proceed.  When one davens, for example, to Hashem for success before starting his working day, he is demonstrating his awareness that it is not “Kochi V’Otzem Yadi--one’s own intuition, prowess or powers” that will bring about his success today or any other day, but rather it is Hashem Who is the Only Source of all Bracha.  It is for this reason that it is forbidden to engage in business activities before davening Shacharis (see Brachos 14A)--for it is futile for one to believe that he actually accomplishes anything on his own before davening--i.e., without Hashem’s guidance and gifts to him! 

 

C.  A Nevuah is not simply an experience by which Hashem reveals the future to a Tzaddik. Rather, the Ikar HaNevuah is the Deveikus experienced between the Navi and Hashem!  We can all work towards the goal of...a Navi!

 

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