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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  Many Kashrus agencies have now followed suit regarding the Tylenol Children’s Grape product, and are suggesting the use of Kosher-certified products which exist in its stead.  For further information, we urge you to contact your local Kashrus Organization or your Rav.



Special Note Two:  We received the following from a reader:  “If I may add to your insight on Chesed, the Rashi in this week’s Parsha Bereishis 24:65) on “Vatiskos” (referring to Rivka’s covering her face when she first saw her groom) compares the word directly to “Vatikaver” and “Vatishover”, death and birth.  These three milestones in a person’s life; birth, marriage and death provide ample opportunities for Chesed.  A new mother needs help, as you explained regarding Shidduchim--a person seeking his/her partner needs help, and Chessed Shel Emes is when a person is truly helpless.  They also share a common factor in that at these three times in a person’s life, he/she is accompanied with excited onlookers, at birth by his parents and excited family, at his wedding his parents (or in-laws) walk him down to the Chuppa, and finally at a person’s death, the Levaya, he is accompanied by an entourage.  Take it as you wish, but I believe that there is much room to expand and expound on this thought.”


Hakhel Note:  We thank you for this insightful comment with the hope that many will develop the thought.  In connection with Shidduchim, we present below essential rulings and advice of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as found in the Sefer Derech Sicha (I, p.110-121), which we have previously published and are re-publishing because of their sheer importance.  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Moreh Ho’Ra’ah 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.


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 Yitzchok’s righteousness to Besuel and Lovon 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 Adom 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.



Special Note Three:  Additional points and pointers on this week’s Parsha:


a.  We were introduced to Shacharis by Avrohom Avinu in Parshas VaYeyrah at the time of his intended prayers for the people of Sedom.  In this week’s Parsha, we are introduced to the Tefillah of Mincha, by Yitzchak Avinu, immediately prior to his meeting with Rivka.  We may suggest that one lesson we can derive is that the making of one Shidduch can be viewed as the equivalent of trying to save a city!  It is, indeed, stated in the name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, that a certain battle occurred so that a Rosh Yeshiva (who was then a Bochur) would be exiled and find his Bashert in the community he arrived at! 


b.  Another great lesson for us to apply is the way the Torah describes that Yitzchak davened Mincha:  “Vayeitzei Yitzchak LaSuach… and Yitzchak went out to Daven.”  The Torah may be teaching us that Mincha is the most difficult Tefillah to daven because it occurs in the middle of what is often be a very hectic day--but that one should “go out” of all that is happening around him and value and treasure this very special time in which one breaks away from the Olam Hazeh and Meets with his Creator.  Chazal teach us that Eliyahu HaNav especially pleaded to Hashem against the 400 Nevi’ei HaBa’al at Mincha time--a lesson for all future generations to take especial care with this Tefillah.  In fact, the Tur (Orach Chaim 232) writes that if one is careful to daven Mincha well, then  Secharo Harbei Meod--his reward is very great.”  If all of the above is not enough to especially charge usfor Mincha , we remind everyone of the Responsa of the Rashba (Teshuvas HaRashba 5:1), who states that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillah Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillah Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!


c.  Chazal teach us that so many pesukim are devoted to Eliezer’s discussions in finding a wife for Yitzchok Avinu, that Chazal teach “Yofeh Sichasan Shel Avdei Avos...--the speech of the servants of are Avos are Yofeh--nicer or prettier--than the Torah laws that would otherwise have been provided in more detail in its place.”  A reader inquired into the language of “yofeh”--prettier or nicer.  What does this terminology mean to indicate--why didn’t Chazal simply say “tova” (good or better) or “chashuva” (more important), or something along those lines?  We welcome your thoughts.


d.  Rashi (Bereishis 25:9) teaches us that Yishmael did Teshuva, as he allowed Yitzchok to take the lead in the burial of Avrohom Avinu.  The question is obvious--Yishmael was involved in the most heinous and cardinal of sins (Bereishis 21:9)--sins for which he had to be banished from Avrohom Avinu’s home.  Was letting Yitzchok go first at the burial all the Teshuva that he had to do--was that all that was really expected of him?  The Ba’alei Mussar learn a tremendous lesson from this as to what Teshuva really is.  By letting Yitzchok lead the kevura of Avrohom Avinu, Yishmael was not temporarily abdicating, for that would have been totally unacceptable to him.  On principle alone, he would simply not stand for stepping to the side and losing his status.  Rather, Yishmael’s acquiescence to Yitzchok’s position of leadership symbolized that he *had come to realize his true position in life.*  There was no longer any reason for envy, lust, murder, and the like--because they did not lead him to where he was supposed to go.  After all, was he not the son of Haggar, and not of Sora Imeinu, was he not the one whom Hashem Himself had ordered out of Avrohom Avinu’s home?!  Who was he fooling--himself and who else?   Teshuva is looking in--returning to yourself, and expunging those faults and flaws which are harmful to your personal potential and real goals.  Once Yishmael had come to this realization, his true portrait, his true self, then the jealousy, enmity and hostility towards Yitzchok, as the true scion of Avrohom Avinu, was extinguished.  He peacefully and willingly put Yitzchok ahead of him--as the ultimate and conclusive external symbol of a deep and penetrating, and perhaps initially painful, Teshuva process.


Additional Note:  It is no coincidence (we are still waiting for even one of our readers to identify any “coincidence” at all in their lives) that the Torah, at the end of this week’s Parsha, identifies the daughter of Yishmael that Eisav took for a wife as Machalas--the forgiven one--as if to demonstrate to his parents, Yitzchok Avinu and Rivka Imeinu--that he, too, would commence the Teshuva process.  We may additionally suggest that Yishmael’s actions, as well as Eisav’s endeavor in taking Machalas as a wife (Bereishis Rabbah 67:13)--is symbolic of the final truth at the end of days--that both the B’nai Yishmael and the B’nai Eisav would ultimately return to Hashem and do their part in fulfilling the world’s purpose.  It is perhaps only **our final acts of Teshuva** which are needed to ready and prepare the rest of the world for this hopefully soon upcoming and so-desperately-needed time.  


e.  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 take leave of Avrohom Avinu in the Parshios 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!



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


1.  A reader wrote to us in the name of HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl that the Neshama Yeseira we receive on Shabbos is not necessarily the same Neshama Yeseira that we had last Shabbos or the Shabbos before.  While we may not fathom the meaning, and certainly not the depth, of this comment, the reader suggested that we can all daven on Erev Shabbos that we receive an elevated Neshama Yeseirah on Shabbos.  After all, davening helps in each and every aspect of our lives--why can it not help us to attain an elevated Neshama Yeseirah--which--in turn will help elevated our Shabbos even further?!  Hakhel Note:  What a valuable and thoughtful comment!


2.  Last week, we brought from the Sefer Kaf Hachaim (in the name of HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl) that the Seudah of Melave Malka draws a light of holiness from the Shabbos meals into the meals for the upcoming week as well.  How does one draw the elevated Tefillos of Shabbos into his weekday Tefillos as well?  HaRav Vital, Z’tl addresses this as well:  It is through our careful recitation of “Vihi Noam etc.” after Shemone Esrei as Shabbos leaves us.  Accordingly, when reciting Vihi Noam, one should have specific intention that he wishes to draw the internal and spiritual light created through his Tefillos on Shabbos… into his weekday Tefillos as well.


3.  The Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Orach, Orach Chaim, 51, seif katan, 18) brings in the name of the Bais Yosef that it appears from the Bais Yosef (and so ruled by the Magein Avraham) that on Shabbos one should rise when reciting the words:  “Hashem Melech, Hashem Malach, Hashem Yimloch LeOlam Vaed.”  Hakhel Note:  We see a great emphasis on appreciating Hashem’s Malchus on Shabbos with the unique Shabbos words of “Yismichu VeMalchusecha as well!


4  A reader asked us to point out that the proper pronunciation of the Navi that is read after the Torah reading is not Haftorah--but Haftawraw--with a double Kamatz and not a Cholam. 


5.  In our Shabbos Shemone Esrei, immediately prior to completing the central Bracha of “MeKadeish HaShabbos” , we recite a series of requests, some of which do not appear to related directly to Shabbos--although they all most definitely relate to matters of Ruchniyus.  Interestingly, after beginning with the words “Retzei BeMenuchaseinu” in which we ask Hashem to be pleased with our Shabbos observance today, we actually make Seven more Requests apparently correlating to Seven Brachos which we request from Hashem--in return for our proper observance of the Seventh Day of the Week!  During each of the three Shabbos Tefillos, we should be careful to pause and differentiate between each request to demonstrate its importance and significance to us.  Imagine a commoner who was given permission by a king to receive seven gifts and was asked to name them--would he quickly slur through “aroomfulofgoldsilverjewelspearlsdiamondsrubiescashbelssed are youohKing.” (?!)…. We can add much to the light of our Shabbos through our improvement in this Paragraph of Tefillah, and then draw it (and all of the blessings that we are separately enunciating in it) through to the rest of the week--with our tefillos at Vihi Noam!!



Special Note One:  We received the following important communication from a reader:  “I attended a Shiur by Rabbi Shlomo Brevda, Shlita, tonight.  He asked that everyone should please daven for his Refuah Shelaima B’soch She’ar Cholai Yisroel.  His name is Shlomo Laib ben Miryam.  Everyone should please daven this week, as on this coming Monday, he will be undergoing a procedure, and Tuesday everyone should daven also, that the recovery should go well.  Tizku L’mitzvos!!”



Special Note Two:  We received the following from another reader:  “The Hakhel daily e-mail has discussed several very frightful descriptions of the punishment after death for laxity and violations of Shemiras Halashon.  As someone who lost a parent, this caused me great anxiety and I am very interested in hearing what can possibly be done by the children left behind to provide a rectification for the Neshama specifically for any possible violations of Shemiras Halashon and provide an Aliya for the Neshama.”


Hakhel Response:  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation recently published a pamphlet which squarely responds to this issue.  We provide the response by clicking here.



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


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



Special Note Four:  A second Reality Check for the day is our Kabalos card.  When was the last time we looked at it--and what needs fixing or improvement. We must remember the teaching of Chazal that Yochanan Kohen Gadol had served as *Kohen Gadol* for 80 years--and in the end became a Sadducee (Tzaduki).  It is the Yetzer Hora's daily and life-long task to have us fail at our mission, and the best way to fight him is with constant and consistent advancement--so that rather than bringing you down to a lower level--he is struggling to keep you from rising further and further.  Indeed, daily reminder(s) through the our Kabbalos Card can serve as pristine moments in an extremely busy day of our great goal and true drive for...Teshuva BeChol Yom!



KASHRUS ALERT!  Rabbi Yechezkel Aeurbach, Shlita, of the Square Bais Din warns that Tylenol Children’s Grape Flavor is not Kosher and that it is a “Serious Issur.”



Special Note One:  Today is already Wednesday, which actually brings us closer to the next Shabbos than the previous one.  There is a practical and wonderful thought provided by the Skulener Rebbe, Z’tl.  The Rebbe notes that there are three possibilities in the performance of Chesed:


1.  As we see from the thoughts and actions of Avrohom Avinu--one who actively seeks and pursues Chesed, looking in the distance for opportunities, and not resting on laurels or being complacent with past and even significant accomplishments.


2.  One who properly and meticulously performs Chesed, but only when the opportunity arises--such as the knock at the door--giving a respectable amount, B’Sever Panim Yafos.


3.  One who does not utilize every Chesed opportunity, and does not like “getting caught” in a Chesed, but instead does Chesed “in his way” and “at his time.” 


Obviously the Chesed of our forefather Avrohom is the #1 enhanced and preferred method.  With this in mind, the Rebbe looks to the Zemiros that many of us sing on Leil Shabbos:  “Dorshei Hashem Zerah Avrohom Ohavo HaMe’achrim Latzeis Min HaShabbos U’Memeharim Lavo--seekers of Hashem descendents of Avrohom His beloved, who delay parting from Shabbos and rush to enter.”  The Rebbe queries--what does rushing to enter or delaying to leave the Shabbos have to do with the fact that we are descendents of Avrohom His beloved?!  He beautifully looks to the three levels of Chesed performance, and compares them to our Shabbos performance as well:  “There are those, like Avrohom Avinu, who look out for Shabbos well in advance, beginning preparations to enhance the Shabbos earlier on in the week--What do I need to buy?  What do I need to clean?  What do I need to prepare?  Is there anything that happened last Shabbos that I have to improve upon or make sure that it does not happen again?  What do I need to learn this Shabbos?  This enhanced level of preparation-- U’Memeharim Lavo --is a mark of the progeny of Avrohom Avinu, and labels one as an especial Doresh Hashem as described in the Zemiros.  The second level of Shabbos preparation--with almost everything left for Erev Shabbos, and much especially left for the hours close to Shabbos, is comparable to the second level of Chesed in which the Mitzvah is properly performed, but lacks the grand level of excellence attributable to our forefather.  The third level, of course is the person who does not seem to get it all together on time and is “caught by the bell” (or the siren), having done what he could under the circumstances, but entering into and experiencing Shabbos with something lacking--just as the one not recognizing or properly dealing with the Chesed opportunities that have presented themselves to him…. 


Today, at the end of the Shir Shel Yom of Shacharis we especially recited “Lechu NeRanena--as a wake-up reminder to us that Shabbos is coming!”  We are coming off the very Shabbos in which we witnessed Avrohom Avinu’s anticipation and earnestness in pursuit of Chesed.  It is up to us, teaches the Rebbe, to take the lesson to heart for Shabbos Kodesh--and to look out--put additional thought, effort, and action into enhancing the coming Shabbos early-on. 


Perhaps the best way to demonstrate that we are the descendants of Avrohom Avinu is by following his great and active lead--as we look out for Shabbos, and begin to prepare for it with love! 



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Hillel David, Shlita, recently related the following: “Chazal teach that if there is a Chut Hameshulash--if there are three generations of Torah in a row, then the Torah is “Mechazeres Al Achsanya--returns to its ‘host’--the future descendents of the three generations.”  The great Sha’agas Aryeh overheard a few young boys discussing this teaching, upon which one raised the following “shtarka kashya”--strong question:  Our Avos, Avrohom, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were all great Talmidei Chachamim and constituted three generations in row of Torah scholarship.  If so, then why isn’t each and every one of us a Talmid Chochom--based upon the Torah returning to its host?  After all, are we not their “Bnei Beneihem--their direct lineage?!  The Sha’agas Aryeh answered with the words of Chazal itself--that the Torah returns to its host.  In every generation, the Torah comes knocking at our door expecting to be ‘hosted’ by us--the Torah was very happy with being hosted by the Avos, and wants to continue with their holy lineage.  However, it is up to us to answer the Torah’s knock and to let the Torah in! 


The words of the Sha’agas Aryeh should not merely be viewed as witty or sharp words, but instead should be looked upon as reality.  No one besides us, as the descendents of the Avos, has the Torah knocking at their door.  Going to a Shiur, studying the Parsha, learning the Halachos of how to arise in the morning or how to speak, how to conduct business, eat; and go to sleep; studying words of Hadracha and Hashkafa from Mussar giants or contemporaries on a daily basis….  These are not mere duties or obligations, requirements of the job, or even the best thing to do--rather, they are all irreplaceable privileges of unparalleled importance and significance.  Imagine every single world leader knocking on your door today (assuming you really cared about them and that they were really respected)-- all of these knocks pale in significance to the one knock of a Mishna Yomi, a Daf Yomi, a Halacha Yomi, a Shemiras HaLashon Yomi, a Mussar Yomi, study of the Parsha, or any other Shiur or Limud that you have. 


So please, when you hear the knock today make sure that you open the door--and when you open the door make sure that it in some way touches the way your Avos opened that very same door--with joy, with honor, with gratitude--and with the hope that your life and being will always be an Achsanya for Torah--a most appropriate and fitting host!



Special Note Three:  By popular request, and by *very important need*, we provide the following Note previously published:


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


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


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


Our modest proposal:  As this week is the Parsha of Shidduchim, and, as Chazal teach that privately performed Chesed is especially meaningful, we suggest that you, together with your spouse or close friends, undertake b’li neder, to make just one date--just one good attempt at a match--in the year 5771.  Let the Torah, let the actions of our Avos, let your G-d-given and inspired feelings for others be your inspiration.


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


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


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



Special Note One:  From a recent Morning Machsom L’fi Reminder, which can be delivered to your Inbox every morning:  “We can count the number of seeds in an apple; Hashem can count the number of apples in a seed” (HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl).  Once again, to join the great and wonderful Morning Machsom L’fi Program, and accrue Zechusim on your behalf or on behalf of a loved one, please email:  morningmachsomlfi@cchfusa.org



Special Note Two:  We received the following from a reader:  The following does not appear to originate from a Torah source, but it certainly is a lesson to us all in “Chochma BaGoyim Ta’amin.”  Oh what a shame it is that so much wisdom is lost because of the lack of focus and pursuit of desire in the world at large.  Here is the “Chochma”:


There is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.

It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.  What would you do?  Draw out ALL OF IT, of course!

Each of us has such a bank.  Its name is TIME.

Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.  Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.  It carries over no balance.  It allows no overdraft.

Each day it opens a new account for you.  Each night it burns the remains of the day.  If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.  There is no going back. T here is no drawing against the "tomorrow."


You must live in the present on today's deposits.  Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success!  The clock is running.  Make the most of today.

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the student of a Daf Yomi Shiur [this was edited by Hakhel].

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.

To realize the value of ONE -TENTH OF A SECOND, ask the person who won the *silver* medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment that you have… and remember that time waits for no one!


Hakhel Note:  In the words of many great Rabbanim, you are always safer with a Sefer.  We should recognize, treasure and utilize the moments that would otherwise be wasted during the day while waiting for this if for that--waiting is not a time to dream--but a time to accomplish your dream!  As part of our Teshuvah Bechol Yom, let us find a few specific moments in the day (it may even be daily) which are wasted and make them Torah/Mitzvah productive!



Special Note Three:  Before leaving Parshas Vayeirah, just a few additional points and pointers:


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


b.  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!


c.  An important person asked us why does the Torah emphasizes that Avimelech, the king of the Plishtim was accompanied by Phichol, Sar T’zavao (Bereishis: 21:22 and 32)?  Why do we have to specifically know that Phichol came, and that Phichol then left with Avimelech?  We invite your responses.  


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



As the work week outside of Eretz Yisroel begins, perhaps we can undertake--one time a day--to put down our Blackberry or cell phone and not make the call/or the text, or look at the email--even though we have already reached for it.  Some beginnings in self control are necessary in order to ensure that the phone does not become an additional appendage to our bodies--especially since Hashem did not make it one!



Special Note One:  We conclude our brief discussion of the Chofetz Chaim’s powerful lessons in the efficacy of Shemiras HaLashon and the sad and horrible results of one’s failure to abide by these laws, with the following additional points, which are culled from a beautiful pocket-sized Hebrew pamphlet distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation:


a.  If one is not careful with what and how he speaks, even if he had learned all of Shas several times, when he arrives before the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah, he will not find even one Gemara that will protect him--for all of his Gemara learning is covered by a Ruach HaTumah which blocks its light. It is for this reason that at the end of Shemone Esrei we ask Hashem for “Netzor Leshoni Mairah, and then only after do we request “P’sach Libi BeSorasecha.”  (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon 2:1,26)


b.  The “Ikar HaShemira” in Shemiras HaLashon is not through “Kabalos HaLev” alone, but rather through establishing a time to learn the Halachos and Mussar relating to speech.  (Sefer Chovas HaShemira, Chapter 3)


c.  The Chida writes that Shemiras HaLashon is a “Pesach VeIkar Gadol”--opening and essential principle to merit Olam Haba.  Likewise, the G’ra (in the Iggeres HaGra) writes that the “Ikar” to merit Olam Haba is through guarding one’s mouth--more than any other deeds--for the mouth is Kodesh Kodashim.


d.  HaRav Yehuda Zev Segal, Z’tl, told one of his close students:  “There is not a family in the world which learns the two Halachos a day of Shemiras HaLashon, which has not seen a Yeshua of some kind. 


For those who have not yet done so, may we urge you, as a Zechus for yourself or a loved one, to join the 9AM to 10AM Morning Machsom Lefi of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.  To subscribe to this wonderful Program, in which you will be joining thousands worldwide in demonstrating your sincere daily dedication to Shemiras HaLashon, please email today to morningmachsomlfi@cchfusa.org or call 845-352-3505.



Special Note Two:  There are actually so many lessons that one may derive from last week’s Parsha, that we suggest that you jot down ten that you already know in the back of your mind.  Take at least one or two, and think about how you can practically apply it in your life.  Here is a simple one to get started:  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….”



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



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


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


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

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



Special Note One:  We received the following important points from a reader:  Speaking of the bracha of Modim, there are two items that many people seem to be unaware of and mispronounce in this bracha.  The first is the fourth word in both regular Modim and Modim D’Rabbanan.  Is it Sheh.ah.ta or Shaw.ah.ta?  Next time you daven take a hard look in your Siddur and see what it says.  It’s Shaw.ah.ta with a Kawmatz and not Sheh.ah.ta with a Segel.  That is unless you are davening from a Sefardi (not Nusach Sefard) Siddur or from a Stoliner Siddur.  The reason it is Shaw.ah.ta is because it comes from a Posuk in Shoftim, Perek Vav.  Reb Shabse Sofer, Talmid of the Levush, and the person who wrote the first authoritative Siddur from a point of Dikduk and the reasons thereof, points out that this was how it was written in the Siddur of the Maharshal and in the Siddur of the Maharak.
The second is the word cha.lu. The emphasis is on the end of the word, cha.LU and not CHA.lu. CHA.lu would be with a Ches and would mean the opposite, that HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s Rachamim were not chal, c”v.  On the other hand, cha.LU means that His Rachamim are not completed--and this is what we mean to say--that His Mercy towards us continues and continues.  Big difference, you will agree.
In fact, the word that we begin Kiddush with Friday night and is said twice earlier in Shabbos Ma’ariv is pronounced vai.chu.LU and not
VAI .Ye.chu.lu as many mistakenly say it.  This word in all its variations--vai.chu.LU, vai.yi.CHAL, cha.LU is ALWAYS pronounced with an emphasis on the last syllable.  Reb Shabse Sofer states to put any emphasis on the Vav and stretch it out is as if one is using the language of “ VAI ” and appears that you are expressing “Vai” over the creation of the Heavens and the earth (chalila).  Hakhel Note:  Thank you for these very valuable points.  A tremendous lesson that we learn is that not only is every word important --but that the mispronunciation of a word can result in expressing its opposite meaning--which further emphasizes how careful we have to be with our holy tongues!



Special Note Two:  From another reader, a comment relating to the points we culled yesterday from the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon by the Chofetz Chaim.  “I would like to add some additional points from the same Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, even though some may consider them to be fearful.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that it is impossible to imagine the anguish that a person must go through in the next world for even one case of inappropriate speech.  Every single Dibbur, every single word is recorded.  We may forget about what we said today, but in Shamayim our words are too important to be forgotten.  The Chofetz Chaim actually brings Mekubalim who write that someone who is a Ba’al Lashon Hara may have to become a stone as a Gilgul (i.e., something which cannot speak), and sometimes may have to come back as a dog.  Additionally, although a person who had previously lived in this world as a person will not realize that he is a Gilgul, one who becomes an animal in a future Gilgul will realize that he was once a human being and suffer incredibly.  If one does Teshuvah in Shemiras HaLashon he saves himself, and every form or aspect of him in the future, and for eternity!

Hakhel Note:  Thank you for these additional powerful words of the Chofetz Chaim.  Perhaps we can work on Shemiras HaLashon over the next few days as our Teshuva Bechol Yom.



Special Note Three:  We provide the following points and pointers on tomorrow’s Parsha, Veyeirah:


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


b.  Many have toiled over the Chazal that teaches that “Hachnosas Orchim is greater than greeting the Shechina”--as we see that Avrohom Avinu asked Hashem to wait so that he could greet the strangers approaching.  HaRav Shach, Z’tl(whose Yahrzeit is Sunday, the 16th of Cheshvan) teaches that Hachnosas Orchim is greater because through Hachnosas Orchim one is not only in the presence of the Shechina, but is actually emulating the Shechina, thereby becoming one with it.  If one would think about it from a parent-child perspective, a parent would have much greater Nachas from the child doing what he does--rather than the child simply being together with him in his presence. 

Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Tomer Devorah is a concise and potent Sefer which describes some of Hashem’s Attributes, and gives practical examples as to how we, as mere mortals, can actually emulate them.  It is even available broken down into thirty-day segments, so that one can review the Sefer daily on a monthly basis, and is available in English under the title “The Palm Tree of Devorah”).


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


e.  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!


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



Special Note Four:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:  The following Halachos relate to Melave Malka, and are based in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 300, as expounded upon in the Mishna Berurah, Orach HaShulchan and Kaf HaChaim).


1.  Chazal teach that one should partake of food on Motza’ei Shabbos, just as he partakes of food when Shabbos enters.  The Luz bone is uniquely nourished through this meal, is the bone that lives eternally, and is the bone from which Techiyas HaMeisim will occur.  Through the “Fourth Seudah” of Melaveh Malka, the light of the Kedusha of the Seudos of Shabbos extends to all the Seudos of the coming days of Chol (HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl).  Women are obligated in the Seudah--after all do they too not need the lasting effects of Shabbos throughout the week?!  In fact, it is brought as a Segulah for women not have a hard labor to eat something L’Sheim Mitzvas Melave Malka.


2.  The Aruch HaShulchan writes of one who eats Melave Malka “Secharo Merubah, Vechol Yirei Elokim Misamtzin LeKaymah--his reward his great and all those who fear Hashem gird themselves to perform it.


3.  The Kaf HaChaim writes that before Melave Malka one should say that this is the Seudah of Dovid HaMelech, and he will merit being saved from Chibut HaKever.  He should also state that he is intending to fulfill the Mitzvah of Melaveh Malka and recite Tehillim Chapter 23 (Mizmor LeDovid).


4.  The Kaf HaChaim continues that it is customary to sing Zemiros relating to Eliyahu HaNavi “for at this time Eliyahu sits in Gan Eiden writing the Zechuyos of Klal Yisroel.”


5.  One should not eat leftovers for Melave Malka (see Shabbos 119B for an incredible Ma’aseh).  The Magen Avraham writes that it is appropriate to cook meat or something else especially for Melave Malka.  One should try to find a food that he enjoys, even if it expensive.  It is reported that both the G’ra and the Ba’al Shem Tov would eat garlic at Melave Malka.  If one feels he cannot eat bread, he should at least eat Pas Haba’ah Bekisnin (such as cake), and have Kavanna that he is escorting out the Shabbos.  If this is not possible, he should at least have fruits. 


6.  Chazal teach that if one partakes of warm bread or a warm drink at Melave Malka, it provides a “Melugmah” (a Refuah) for the person. 


7.  The Zohar writes that on Motza’ei Shabbos when the Neshama Yeseirah returns to Shomayim, it is asked what it ate in honor of Shabbos, and what Chidushei Torah it heard, and is then placed into its appropriate place in its Mesivta in Heaven.  The Zohar also writes that if one does not fulfill the “Fourth Seudah”, it is as if he did not fulfill the Third Seudah either.


8.  If for some reason one cannot eat because he is sick or for another reason, he should eat whatever he can, and try to ensure that others partake of Melave Malka. 


9.  One should endeavor to eat the Seudas Melave Malka as soon as practicable after Havdalah, but certainly should try to do so before Chatzos.


10.  There is a special Tefillah to be recited at Melave Malka based on a Yerushalmi, and is published in many Siddurim, beginning with the words “Ribon HaOlamim.”  Its recitation is a beautiful way in which to conclude the Shabbos… and bring its Great Bracha into the new week!



Special Note One:  From a reader:  In response to your question about “Nesaper Tehilasecha” I think that by speaking in the future tense, we are saying that next time something happens to us that makes us see Hashem in our lives so clearly, we will make sure to tell it over to others so they can gain from the inspiration that we had at that moment!"



Special Note Two:  Today’s thought for Teshuvah BeChol Yom:  What will I do better today than I did yesterday? 



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


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


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


Additional Note One:  In the bracha of Refa'einu, we should focus when we especially ask Hashem for "Hoshi'ainu VeNiva'shaiya"--O' Hashem save us from sicknesses (one can, of course, be more specific in his personal requests) and their causes (Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah).


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


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


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



Special Note Four:  In the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, the Chofetz Chaim makes the following poignant points relating to the extreme and practical importance of guarding one’s speech, all as explicitly derived from Chazal.  Now that we are more than 30 days from Yom Kippur in which we so thoroughly confessed and attempted to cleanse ourselves of the blight of Lashon Hara, we provide some essential reminders to fight the Yetzer Hara in the coming months:


a.  In the future, all will be healed--except for the Ba’al Lashon Hara.


b.  All Mitzvos (Tzitzis, Sukkah, Lulav…) relate to Gashmiyus--except for Torah which is dependent upon speech, which is Ruchani.  This is why Talmud Torah is “K’Neged Kulam”.  The reverse is true for Aveiros--for when a person sins with a hand or a leg, he is sinning with Gashmiyus--however, when he speaks Lashon Hara he is taking a Koach Ruchani and spoiling it.  It is for this reason that his punishment will also, r'l, be “K’Neged Kulam.” 


c.  The more Chashuv a person is, the greater the sin of Lashon Hara is.  A Ben Torah who speaks Lashon Hara can be compared to a large and beautiful wedding hall (a “Traklin Gadol”) into which a sewer pipe begins to flow.


d.  Chazal explain that the word “Torah” (or “Toras”) is mentioned five times in the Parsha of Tzora’as for a specific reason--to teach us that one who speaks Lashon Hara is considered to have violated all five of the Chamisha Chumshei Torah. 


e.  When a person goes to sleep at night and his soul rises to Heaven, the words of Lashon Hara that he spoke that day rise with him, and the Kedoshim distance themselves from him--there is simply no greater Bizayon that the soul can face. 


f.  The reason that the Metzora has to call out “Tamei Tamei--I am Tamei, I am Tamei” is so that others daven for him--for his own Tefillah will not be accepted because of the Ruach of Tumah that has settled upon him. 


g.  It would never enter a sane person’s mind to ruin or destroy the object or work through which he earns his livelihood.  Hashem distinguishes man from all animals through his power of speech--how could he ruin not only the source of his survival--but the source of his distinction?!


h..  There are those who may have sinned in Lashon Hara in the past.  If a person does Teshuva from this sin and purifies his mouth going forward, he will attain levels that even Tzaddikim Gemurim could not accomplish.  Moreover, his words of Torah and Tefillah will now be able to find their way to their proper places in the Heavens above. 


Hakhel Note:  If one has a Shailah in Shemiras HaLashon (such as in a Shidduch, business, or neighbor context), we urge you to call the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline at 718-951-3696 (evenings from 9-10:30 pm Eastern Time)--where Poskim answering your real-life questions will not only purify your speech--but will also thereby guide your eternal words of Torah and Tefillah to their proper and permanent place in Shomayim!


Special Note One:  Every day in the Bracha of Modim in Shemone Esrei we recite the words “Nodeh Lecha U’Nesapair Tehillasecha.”  It would appear that we could fulfill the term ‘Nodeh Lecha’ by expressing our HaKaras HaTov either in Shemone Esrei, or by such words as “Thank You Hashem” at some point or points during the day.  However, how can we fulfill our assertion of “U’Nesapair Tehillasecha…we will relate Your praises”--which appears to involve a more detailed and involved expression of praise?  We find, for instance, that the concept of “LeMa’an Tesapair BeAznei Bincha” and Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim is expressed through the details of the story of our Exodus from Egypt.  Thus, in order to fulfill the words of Modim and not “be speaking falsely” in our prayers, shouldn’t we at least one time a day go into some further detail about what we are thanking Hashem for?  Additionally, doesn’t the term Sippur indicate that we should be relating our expression of praise of Hashem to others or at least someone else, and not merely making it a personal statement between you and Hashem?  We invite your thoughts and comments.  We add only that your silence will indicate your agreement to our notion--at least one time a day one should relate to another, in some detail, his thanks to Hashem for a particular gift, lesson, occurrence, meeting….Be a ‘Mesapair’--as you say three times a day that you are!



Special Note Two:  Imagine the King’s son, lost and straying in a neighboring country at just about this time of year.  One person gives him hot food, a second gives him a warm bed for the night, the third even buys him a new down coat for the winter.  All great Chasodim--but none of these can come anywhere near to matching the ultimate Chesed--bringing him home to the palace, to his father, to his family, to his friends, to his royal past and future.


In this regard, HaRav Yaakov Neiman Z’tl, Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Yisroel in Petach Tikva, brings the following Posuk (Yirmiyahu 9:22, 23):  “So says Hashem--Let not the wise person glory in his wisdom nor the let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let a person glory in this--that he understands and knows Me....”


Rav Neiman writes that the Posuk teaches that there is one thing you can take credit for--and that is to state in clear and unambiguous language to the world that you know that there is a Master Creator and Provider.  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim brings the Chazal which teaches that after Avraham fed his guests, he asked them to “bentch”, so that they would affirm their belief in Hashem’s daily and continuous beneficence and kindness to us.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that there is no greater “hatava”--no greater goodness that you can bestow upon a person, than to strengthen his recognition and his wholehearted faith in his Creator.  Indeed, not so long ago on the Yomim Noraim, we prayed for the time, that not only us, but the whole world would make an “aguda achas”--a unified group whose faith in Hashem is undaunted.  Indeed, although a Gallup poll showed that 93% of Americans stated that they believed in G-d--much of Western society would still view our total submissiveness and subservience, our unyielding and unabashed faith, to be “naïve”, “backward” or at least out of sync or out of touch with modern man and all of his accomplishments.  As we live in this society, we ourselves might be slightly affected by this attitude.  We must, however, strengthen ourselves as Avraham Avinu did (he had even fewer people to back him up!) and unabashedly affirm and reaffirm our faith to ourselves, within our community, and to others.


The Ramban (Shemos 13:16) writes: “For the ultimate objective of all the Mitzvos is that we should believe in our G-d and acknowledge to Him that He created us” (translation courtesy of Artscroll, Ramban Commentary on the Torah, Shemos, p.299). 


In these trying times, we owe it to ourselves to bring our thoughts and the thoughts of others “home to the King”, and to specifically recognize and explain to others, that this occurrence and that event, whether it is a lead international news item or your getting stuck at a traffic light three times before being able to pass through, everything--large or small--from affecting the world to affecting what is for supper, is from Hashem Who created us, and Who is and will forever be, watching over us!



Special Note Three:  There is, however, one additional great conclusion that we must take with us through our day as well.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, provides the following essential teaching. 


Although, the Rambam’s Mishna Torah is a Sefer Halacha, in certain places he provides us with important Yesodos in our Avodas Hashem.  One of these places is at the end of Hilchos Issurei Mizbe’ach (7:11) where the Rambam learns from Kayin (who brought an inferior quality Karbon) and Hevel (who brought of his choicest animals) that one must overcome his Yetzer Hora--and when performing any Mitzvah in honor of Hashem to do so from that which is nice and beautiful.  HaRav Salomon notes that it was, incredibly, Kayin who initiated the concept of Korban here, recognizing Hashem’s Greatness and the need to appreciate Him.  Hevel seems only to have followed Kayin’s lead, albeit in a more beautified fashion.  Why then was Kayin’s Korban wholly rejected, and Hevel’s “copy” accepted instead?  HaRav Salomon answers that Hevel did much more than “copy” Kayin’s Korban.  By bringing from the best resources that he had available to him, by performing a Mitzvah “not just to be Yotzei,” and by considering the best possible way to do the Mitzvah, Hevel was teaching mankind for eternity that it **not enough to only recognize the Greatness of Hashem, but that we must also recognize the Goodness of Hashem**.  One who realizes how good Hashem is to him will give his best when serving Him.  This is why the Rambam specifically refers to Hashem in the Halacha quoted above as “HaKeil HaTov”(see there)--so that we recognize the Goodness from Hashem in everything that comes to us in this world (both the clear gifts, pleasures, and Simchas, as well as other events that do not appear as clearly to be good)--all emanate from the Source of All Goodness--and that they are all Good. 


Kayin correctly recognized Hashem’s Greatness--but his failure to bring the best showed that he did not recognize Hashem’s Goodness.  Hevel showed that seeing the Greatness is not enough--without recognition of the Goodness.  Interestingly, HaRav Salomon noted that his parents taught him to respond to the question “How are you feeling?” not only with the words Baruch Hashem, but instead with Hodu LaShem Ki Tov Ki LeOlam Chasdo--recognizing the “Ki Tov--the Goodness” in his everyday conversations. 


HaRav Salomon concluded with a great point:  “This lesson is taught at the outset of the Torah because it is so basic and needed--even before we get to key lessons from the Avos.  The principle of “Ain Mukdam U’Meuchar BaTorah” applies only in terms of chronological order, but there is an order of lessons in the Torah.  Once we have recognized and grounded in our belief that Hashem is “HaKeil HaTov,” we can move on to the next lessons in the Torah--and the better we will perform each and every one of the Mitzvos--with greater Hiddur, Simcha, and Deveikus!


“Hodu LaShem Ki Tov Ki LeOlam Chasdo”--let it be a unifying point of your day!



BROCHOS QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What Brocha does one make on sesame seeds?

Answer:  Although one may have thought that this is a condiment, the correct Brocha on sesame seeds (or a sesame seed bar) is Borei Pro HaAdama.



Special Note One:  Continuing our Teshuva BeChol Yom Program:  Every morning we all recite very powerful words immediately prior to reciting the Shema:  “VeHaer Eineinu BeSorasecha, Vedabeik Libeinu BeMitzvosecha, VeYacheid Levaveinu…--enlighten our eyes in your Torah, attach our hearts to your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name, and may we not feel inner shame for all eternity.”  If one earnestly and wholeheartedly recites these words, he certainly has touched upon an inner, Ruchniyus yearning, and has taken an important stride in his goal of Teshuva Bechol Yom!  May we suggest that one highlight or otherwise tab these words in his Siddur in order to ensure their proper impact and force in our daily Tefilla.



Special Note Two:  In last week’s Parsha, one may have noted that the special term “Kel Elyon” appeared several times.  It is no coincidence, as it never is, that this important phrase found its way into the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei--the Bracha of Avos!  How can we begin to understand the import of this phrase?  The Kuntrus Avodas HaTefillah by Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Shlita, writes that the words mean that Hashem is “Sibas Kol HaSibos--the Cause of Everything.”  HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl (in the classic Sefer Rav Schwab on Prayer, p.416, Artscroll), elaborates further, as follows: 


Kel Elyon--The Almighty, Who is above our understanding.  None of His creations can conceive of Him.  While we can have some understanding of the underlying concepts of “Gadol, Gibor, and Norah,” and can say that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is “Koneh Shamayim VeAretz--Master of Heaven and Earth” (Bereishis 14:19, 22),  the human mind cannot possibly comprehend the essence of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, or His conduct of world affairs.  For instance, it is beyond our comprehension that the wicked can prosper and grow, while Tzaddikim suffer; or that perfectly innocent children are born with deformities or afflicted with suffering and diseases.  The Holocaust which claimed six million Jews, in addition to the suffering that our people has had to endure for thousands of years, is beyond our ability to explain.  All attempts to explain it will be futile.  The Kel Elyon has not revealed this to us.”


Hakhel Note:  Thus, while reciting the words “Kel Elyon” we must simultaneously recognize that Hashem Causes Everything, and that which He does is Above Our Understanding 



Special Note Three:  We can now personalize this concept of Kel Elyon by reviewing the following excerpt from the essential Sefer Derech Hashem by the Ramchal (beautifully translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan Z’tl, and published by Feldheim Publishers).


“Every man’s predicament in life is his challenge.  The Highest Wisdom divided these challenges among the human race in a manner decreed fitting and proper to fulfill its profound plan.


“Thus, every individual has his own challenge in the battle with his [Evil] Urge.  This is his assignment and responsibility in this world, and within its framework, he must strive for success.  His deeds are then judged by Hashem’s Attribute of Justice with true precision, depending on the particular responsibility that was given to him.


“This situation can be compared to a government, where the king’s many servants must obey his orders.  All of them together must fulfill the task of running his government, and the king therefore gives each one a particular assignment, so that between them all, everything necessary is accomplished.


“Each of these servants then has the obligation to complete his particular assignment.  He is then rewarded by the king according to how he functions in his particular area of responsibility.


“The manner in which this is accomplished [with regard to the entire human race] is beyond our intellect’s ability to grasp, and we can never understand it fully.  The Highest Wisdom, however determines and arranges these things in the best possible manner.”


Hakhel Note:  From this Ramchal, we see that Hashem, as the “Kel Elyon”, in a way which is unfathomable to us, provides each and every one of us on a particular, individualized basis, with the needs, goals, and challenges necessary to fulfill our life’s purpose.  Our job, then, is simply to do our job in a superlative way.  If we do, our promotions will continue--eternally!



Special Note One:  Relating to our Mama Rachel, we provide the following two moving insights, as previously published:


1.  From a reader:   When we speak about Rachel Imeinu, we say, ‘Kol b’ramah nishma...Rachel mivaka al baneha ki eineinu...--a voice is heard on high...Rachel is crying about her children....’  The word ‘mivaka’ seems to be grammatically incorrect.  The definition of ‘mivaka’ is to cause someone else to cry.  The question is why do we use this term for cry?  If Rachel is crying for us on High (as we know that Hashem says that her tears are going to bring the geula) why is the term ‘mivaka--causing to cry’--used?!  The pasuk should simply say, ‘Rachel bocha--Rachel is crying’ because she is constantly crying for us to come out of galus!  The answer could be that Rachel Imeinu is crying 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!  Rachel is trying to get 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!  So take out your siddur, 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 Rachel Imeinu, ‘Minee koleich m’bechee v’einayich midim’ah,’--Rachel, you can stop crying, because ‘v’shavu banim ligevulam,’ Bnei Yisroel will return to their boundaries.  May we all have the zechus to see these very words come true!”  Hakhel Note:  Thank you, and may the pasuk ‘‘those who plant seed with tears will reap with joy’’ be fulfilled speedily and in our day!


2.  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 HaEgel (See Shemos 32:10 and Rashi there).


There is an extremely important lesson for us here.  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, notes that the Bais HaMikdash is referred to as the “Sukkas Dovid HaNofoles” (Amos 9:11 )--as the falling/fallen booth of Dovid.  He explains that the word “Nofoles” 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.


The Navi teaches that Rochel Imeinu cried for her children.  HaRav Shmuelevitz asked her to keep crying.  Likewise, the Navi tells us that we must recognize that the Bais HaMikdash is Nofoles.  We, too, 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 envision the falling 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” then ring true for our actions, as well, speedily and in our day!



Special Note Two: As incredible as it may sound, it is now 30 days since Yom Kippur, and 40 days since Rosh Hashanah!  This means that more than 10% of this New Year is now behind us.  The halfway mark will be coming sooner than we think.  It behooves each and every one of us at this time to take a few moments out to recall what our goals and aspirations were for the year, to consider what we have accomplished (now that we are in fact, a couple of weeks past Yom Tov), and to determine how we can better put ourselves in the right direction for the future.  Without wishing to sound intimidating, we intend to provide a similar awareness notification in another 40 days--so we ask that you plan to meet the challenge.  We once again urge one to join in our goal of Teshuva Bechol Yom--especially focusing on his kabalos and their implementation daily.



We received the following correspondence from a reader:  “Emergency--Abaye says clearly in Mesechta Shabbos that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed due to Chilul Shabbos.  It is quite disheartening when I go to Shul on Erev Shabbos just in time for Mincha that I constantly witness people are just then driving up to their house or their host’s or parent’s or in-law’s house still in weekday clothes and then begin shlepping out suitcases and baby cribs and the like.  Is this the way we should welcome Shabbos...the foundation of Yiddishkeit?!”



NEW --HOSPITAL KOSHER GUIDE for Jewish patients and their families in NYC area hospitals is available from Chesed of Williamsburg (UPDATED AS OF October ‘10) by the following link:  https://sites.google.com/site/hospitalkosherguideorg/home

The Guide includes neighboring Shuls, Bikur Cholim rooms, Kosher food, local transportation, liaison-chaplain and much more.  For comments please e-mail to: hosplist@gmail.com or call/SMS:  347-878-LIST (5478).



Special Note One:  Today, the seventh day of Cheshvan, is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Meir Shapiro, Z’tl--R’ Yehuda Meir ben R’Yaakov Shimshon, who dedicated his life to passing the light of Torah on to future generations.  To all those who have benefited from the study of Daf Yomi, or from the students of the Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin, we urge you to do any or all of the following on his Yahrzeit L’ilui Nishmaso:


Learn Torah—especially Mishnayos

Give Tzedaka

Dedicate your Daf Yomi Shiur or Daf Yomi study, or review the Daf one extra time, in his memory.


When one studies Daf Yomi he may note the incredible association often found between the Daf’s content and the time of year.  We are now, for example, studying Mesechta Avodah Zara, for which Avrohom Avinu had many more Chapters and Dafim.  It was his role, and the role of his descendents who follow, to eradicate Avodah Zara from the world.  May we follow in his footsteps--and soon complete the mission.  We find in this week’s Parsha that Hashem appeared to Avraham as “Shakai.”  In Aleinu Leshabeiach every day--we look forward to the times of “LeSakein Olam BeMalchus Shakai--when the world will be ridded of all of its Avodah Zara’s--and be fully fixed (“LeSakein”) with and through the Malchus of Hashem.  Once again, we should show our Hakaras HaTov to Rav Shapiro for helping further and develop this awareness before us--as we now begin to study the actions of Avrohom Avinu.



Special Note Two:  The Parsha also highlights for us how far Avraham Avinu went in order to save his captive nephew (Bereishis 14:14).  We are taught “Ma’aseh Avos, Siman L’Bonim--the deeds of the forefathers are a sign to their children.”  We should take a special note of the fact that the great efforts of Avraham Avinu are recorded in **this week’s** Parsha and take action **this week**to help at least those currently incarcerated or in captivity whom we know about.  What is the “action” of a Jew in this circumstance?  The Torah gives us the answer: “HaKol Kol Yaakov V’Hayadayim…” (Bereishis 27:22)--unlike the rest of the world, our words speak louder than our actions.  We add that when HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Zt’l, spoke to those assembled for prayer in Yeshivas Mirrer Yerushalayim on behalf of the Entebbe Airport captives, he urged those there to consider the Entebbe captives as their very own close relatives, and pray as such. 



Special Note Three:  The first bracha of Shemone Esrei concludes with the words “Magen Avrohom.”  Chazal (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 4:4) teach that Avrohom Avinu asked Hashem, “For me you were a great shield [in his war against the superpowers described in this week’s Parsha]--but what will be of my descendants?”  Hashem responded to Avrohom Avinu, “For you I was one shield, but for your descendants, I will be a shield many times over” (as the pasuk states, “Elef Hamagen Tolui Alav”).  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah by Rabbi Mayer Birnbaum, Shlita, brings this Chazal, and suggests that this may be the source for the Sefer Avudraham, who in his peirush on the words “Magen Avrohom” actually adds this to the kavannah of the words--that in the zechus of Avrohom Avinu Hashem continues, and will continue, to shield us as well.


Additional Note 1:  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 112:2) teaches that the first bracha of Shemone Esrei in fact originated earlier--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 Chayim 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 “Anna 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!


Additional Note 2:  The commentaries note that the words in this first bracha of “U’maivi Goel L’Vnei V’neihem--and brings a Redeemer to their children’s children” is recited in the present tense.  Two suggestions are offered for this.  First, that every day we move a step closer to the Geulah Shelaima--that the Geulah is occurring as we speak!  Second, that Hashem gives us each our own personal Geulos--redemptions and yeshuos from issues and matters affecting us in our daily life.  We can certainly have both intentions in mind.


Additional Note 3:  There are, of course, two ways that the Geulah can come--through our own merit or even if we do not merit it, “Lema’an Shemo”--so that the Chilul Hashem of Golus comes to an end.  Even if Hashem must redeem us “Lema’an Shemo”, it will, the bracha teaches us, still be “Be’ahava”--with love.  His love for us will be unaffected.  From this, we should begin to appreciate how great His love for us really is (HaRav Chaim Friedlander).  Hashem was, is, and always will be, the “Ohaiv



Special Note Four:  In the Parsha we find a stark contrast, as pointed out by HaRav Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his great work, Growth Through Torah, as follows:


The Pasuk (Bereishis 12:5) writes: “Vayaitzu Loleches…VaYavou Artza Canaan--and they left to go to the land of Canaan , and they came to the land of Canaan .”  What is the Pasuk teaching us?  Where is the lesson here?


The message, Rabbi Pliskin teaches, is enormous for everyone!  The Torah teaches by this Pasuk that Avrohom Avinu set out to get somewhere--and he arrived there.  However, Terach, his father, who also set out from Ur Kasdim together with his son, did not get to Canaan, but instead stopped in Choron, “and settled there” (Bereishis 11:31).  The rest is history.  Terach died in Choron, and Avrohom Avinu and his descendants have the eternal right to the land that Avrohom reached--Eretz Canaan!  Avrohom accepted upon himself to accomplish his goal and refused to become side-tracked by the pleasures--or even the vicissitudes--of the situations around him.  To succeed in any venture, you must complete what you start.  You must be driven, and not lose sight of what you really must accomplish.


In fact, Rabbi Pliskin continues, it is a very important goal that you are attempting to accomplish; you should even become obsessed with it.  While obsessions may usually be deemed to be negative, they can also be very positive.  A person should never, ever remark “I never finish what I start.”  Rather, a person should recognize his own importance, and move aside the deterrents (however expertly dressed up by the Yetzer Hora) in order to fully and finally realize his objective.


The year is ahead of us.  Let us take this great lesson presented to us by the Torah so early on in the year, so that we accomplish and reach our destination--this year--and in life!



Special Note Five:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.  Once again, as the year is ahead of us, we must be careful not to fall back into unthinking habits and old ways--especially as they relate to our hanhagos on Shabbos.  We provide below some instructive thoughts on weekly Shabbos occurrences that we may take for granted:



1.  The Maharsha (Bava Kamma 32B) teaches that we repeat the words ‘Bo’ee Chala Bo’ee Chala twice at the end of Lecha Dodi--not because it is necessary for the song or because it makes it sound more endearing--but because it represents the true marriage of Bnai Yisroel to the Shabbos Queen.  How so?  First, a Kallah leaves her father’s house to the Chuppah--and the Chassan goes out to greet her and welcome her as she arrives.  Then, after the Chuppah, the Kallah actually enters the home of the Chassan--to fully establish their new relationship.  So too do we first turn to welcome the Shabbos in Shul as it first arrives--and then take the second step of bringing our most welcome bride into our homes.


2.  The Sefer Mishmeres Moed (Shabbos 119B) writes that the two Malochim that accompany us home from Shul on Leil Shabbos are not the usual Malochim that escort us, but rather are especially designated Malochim, whose role it is to give brachos if they find that their is proper Kavod for the Shabbos Queen as they enter.  It is for this reason that we recite Sholom Aleichem--to welcome them initially into our homes--and then ask them to give us the blessing with the words “Borchuni Leshalom.  He notes that the bracha they give is actually Hashem’s bracha and not theirs, as they are only Shelichim--and it is for this reason that we especially remind them (and ourselves!) that ‘MiMelech Malchei HaMelochim Hakadosh Baruch Hu--that the bracha is from Hashem itself.  After receiving the bracha, we can then say Tzeischem LeShalom to them in thanks and appreciation for having fulfilled their task on our behalf!


3.  The Siddur Otzar HaTefillos writes that Aishes Chayil,  ‘from its beginning to its end’, refers to the Shechina, and that it contains 22 Pesukim, which parallel the 22 ‘tzinoros shel ma’aleh’ which are then open and bring Heavenly Bracha down from above.  One should not only sing the Aishes Chayil--he should experience it as well.


4.  Chazal teach that the Roman Caeser asked Rebbe Yehoshua how he could experience the savor of the Jewish food that he had just smelled. Rebbe Yehoshua answered him that this would not be possible because the Jewish People have a special Tavlin, or spice, which the Caeser could not benefit from.  The  ‘spice’ was Shabbos.  To elucidate this point and bring it home in a very practical way, the Ben Ish Chai brings the following amazing incidents in the Sefer Ben Yehoyada and Sefer Benayahu to Mesechta Shabbos:


a.  Sefer Ben Yehoyada.  In Baghdad many years before, a Jew had converted to Islam, and the government wanted to test the sincerity of his conversion. They requested a talmid chacham to try as best he could to talk the meshumad out of it. The talmid chacham did not succeed, as the apostate had too many ulterior motives. A childhood friend of the meshumad, however, recalled how as a young boy the meshumad had enjoyed eating seven or eight “cholent eggs” on Shabbos in one sitting. He turned to the apostate and said--if you remain a meshumad what are you going to do about the Shabbos eggs--for you will only find the taste of Shabbos eggs among the Jewish people. This reality had an immediate impact upon the erstwhile convert--and he returned to his Yiddishkeit--because of the cholent eggs!


b.  Sefer Benayahu.   The Ben Ish Chai writes that Shabbos serves as a Tavlin for food because a ‘he’ara--a light--of Kedusha rests upon a food which is prepared LeKavod Shabbos. He continues with the following:  There was a certain Chassid (pious person) who decided to visit another Chassid for Shabbos whom he held in high regard. However, since he would be coming without notice, the second Chassid brought his own food.  At the meal on Leil Shabbos, the guest’s food was brought to the table together with that of the host.  Both the guest and the host soon realized that the Shabbos aroma of the guest’s food was “ten times stronger” than that of the host.  The perplexed host asked his guest for an explanation. “It is because my wife puts her thought into what she is doing --feeling and saying that this is “LeKavod Shabbos” as she is preparing each food.  With this, the Kedushas Shabbos much more readily rests on the foods.  But you my dear friend have workers preparing your food, and they are not careful to say on everything that they do “This [kugel][cholent] [chicken] [roast beef] [challah] [cake] is LEKAVOD SHABBOS.”  You see, Chazal teach that Shabbos is called the Tavlin of the food.  Tavlin, with the letters rearranged, reads “Tni Lev--pay attention to what you are doing”--for the aroma of Shabbos, the Kedusha that you will bring into your home and beings over Shabbos--is directly related to the special care and attention to the Kavod Shabbos you invest in it!”


May we in the coming year reach new levels in Kavod Shabbos--and Kedushas HaShabbos!



Special Note One:  BROCHOS QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What Brocha does one make over…an Odwalla Banana Nut Bar?

The OU recently published the following information regarding this supervised product:


1. Process and Ingredients

The bar is made primarily of date paste, dried banana, walnuts and rice syrup.  It also contains rolled oats. The ingredients are mixed together, baked, and cut into bars.


2. What is the Beracha Rishona?

Despite the fact that dates, banana, and syrups constitute the majority of the bar, the proper Beracha for this banana nut bar is Mezonos.  This is because there still is a significant amount of Mezonos and because the intention of the oats is clearly to provide flavor.


3. What is the Beracha Achrona?

A single bar has a volume of about 1.6 oz. (48 cc).  The size of a Kezayis ranges.  According to Rav Chaim Nah it is 27 cc and according to Chazon Ish it is 45 cc.  If one eats one bar, one will not have eaten a Kezayis of Mezonos, but they will have eaten a Kezayis of food, so the proper Beracha Achrona is Borei Nefashos.  If one eats several bars, such that they will eat a full Kezayis of Mezonos Bechidei Achilas Pras (two to five minutes) one should recite an.  Al HaMichya.  The Odwalla Company makes eleven different bars, each with a distinct formulation.  Each bar requires an individual evaluation.


4. What is the Beracha on the following additional Odwalla products...

Odwalla almond bar?  Ha’eitz;  Borei Nefashos

Odwalla peanut bar?  Ho’adama;  Borei Nefashos

Odwalla pomegranate bar?  Mezonos;  Borei Nefashos


Hakhel Note:  Once again, one must be diligent to review ingredient panels and make inquiry of the Rabbinic Supervisory Agency if the Bracha Reshona and Bracha Achrona are not written on the label, and if there is any doubt as to the proper Brachos.  Remember, the difference between a bracha Levatala and a beautiful bracha is the span of eternity!



Special Note Two:  We received the following essential travel information from a reader who spent extensive time and research to provide us with the following information:  There is no question that when one is travelling to Israel from New York (West to East) one cannot rely on one's watch to determine the various Z'manim of Shacharis, i.e., HaNetz or Sof Z'man Krias Shema.  For example, taken to an extreme, a Continental flight departs Newark at 10:50 PM and is scheduled to arrive in Israel at 3:15 PM the next day.  It is billed as a 10 hour and 25 minute flight.  If a person checks his watch (as set for Eastern Standard Time) when he lands, it will read 9:15 AM, which most likely is still within the z’man for Krias Shema and certainly within the z'man for Shmone Esrei--however, that would be true, only if he is still in New  York!  Being in Israel, it is already 3:15 in the afternoon, well past the z’man for Shacharis and deep into the time for Mincha.  Where did the time go?  As one flies towards Israel, one continues to pass through a number of time zones, and sunrise continues to get earlier and earlier; as if  you are flying to greet the sun earlier rather than waiting for the sun to hit New York.  Thus, in the example of the 10:50 PM flight, the plane might encounter sunrise somewhere around 3:30 AM on the passenger's watch (because on the ground below it might already be 6:30 AM in the local time zone).  Thus, the best way to determine the appropriate time for davening is by planning ahead and staying alert.   If you program in your arrival and departure information, Chaitables.com will calculate Alos, HaNetz and Sof z'man Krias Shema for you, i.e., it will tell you what time on your watch you should expect those z'manim to occur.  However, even Chaitables.com acknowledges that if the plane takes an alternative route than the typical one programmed in by them, their Z'manim will not be accurate.  Thus, in addition to starting off with  a printout as to the z'manim, one should check on the screens on the airplane the actual flight pattern to see if it is mirroring the pattern assumed by Chaitables.com   Furthermore, one should look out the window of the plane as the HaNetz z'man approaches to see in fact if the sun has come out.  Setting an alarm for the HaNetz time referenced in the Chaitable.com chart is also a good idea, for Sof z'man Krias Shema can come and go in less than 2 hours from the z'man of HaNetz and if you wait the typical three  hours till Sof z'man Krias Shema, it may in fact be time for Mincha.  Hakhel Note:  This is an extremely valuable guide, and should be shared with anyone who you know travels oversees!



Special Note Three:  Yesterday, we provided a reader’s quote from the wonderful, recently published Sefer on Emunah Nefesh Shimshon--Gates of Emunah (Feldheim, 2010) containing the practical and poignant teachings of HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl.  We were so moved by the quote and its effect on our reader, that we provide  the meaning-filled words that follow this quote in the Sefer (at pages 8-9). Obviously, we highly recommend this great work, and believe that it will have a true impact on your personal level of Emunah and Bitachon. 


“How much does Hashem love us?  Let's say you observe a woman cleaning up a baby and you notice that she is holding her nose.  You know she can't be the mother; a mother is not repelled by her own baby's filth.  The verse in Yeshayahu (4:4) states: "When Hashem will wash the filth of the daughters of Zion."  Hashem takes care of us like a loving mother takes care of her baby.  Hashem is also called our Father, and is called “my, Sister, my Beloved,"! and all the other terms of endearment found throughout Torah and Chazal.  There is no lack of love on Hashem's part.  The only problem is for our knowledge of this to become something real and tangible.  That is the trait of bitachon.  When we recite Kiddush on Leil Shabbos we say the passage of VaYechulu over a cup of wine: "VaYechulu ...--Hashem finished on the seventh day."  Why do we recite it over a cup of wine?  What does this add to our declaration that Hashem created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh?  If we wish to emphasize the truth and significance of our declaration, why don't we make it over a daf of Gemara?  When someone wants to give a special thanks to Hashem he makes a Seudah.  There he serves people cake, beverages, and various other delicacies.  The same question arises:  how does food and drink add significance to the thanks that he wishes to give to Hashem?  The answer is as follows:  If we would say the passage of VaYechulu over a daf of Gemara, or a Sefer Tehillim, we would be declaring from an intellectual standpoint that Hashem created the world.  It would be a philosophical testimony.  By contrast, a cup of wine and a piece of cake is something real.  It is tangible reality; it enters our body and we feel it.  We utilize food and drink because we want to convey that Hashem, too, is real and tangible.  His creation of the world is not philosophy.  It is fact.  When a person starts to feel that it is real, he has Bitachon.  His worries disappear.  His questions about Hishtadlus versus Bitachon are resolved.  When a person feels unsure whether he should be relying on Hashem to take care of things, or perhaps he should be making more efforts on his own, this is because it is not real to him.  Once he realizes that Hashem is a real live Father Who takes care of all his needs, there are no more questions.  Everything is clear.  If he had a close relative who possessed even a millionth of the wealth and power that Hashem does, he surely would not worry about anything….Hakhel Note:  As military and terrorist threats against Israel and our people abound, as Parnassah challenges continue…we must react by at least taking action to improve and grow in Emunah and Bitachon in a practical and meaningful way.  Taking this Sefer into hand and heart will hopefully demonstrate that you have begun your effort!



Special Note One: We received the following important correspondence from a Rav:  About the cell phones in Shul that you noted:  Just yesterday I had a judge come in for a Gett (very nice woman).  The phone of one of the Eidim was on vibrate on the table making a loud vibrating noise.  She said: “In my court room, I give them one warning then I have the bailiff (sheriff deputy) take them out!”

Hakhel Note:  Let’s remember the lesson--to avoid any kind of bailiff coming after you because of a cell phone --either in this world or the next.



Special Note Two:  From another reader:  I am sending you the following quote from HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, in his sefer on Emunah, which is so meaningful to me (as someone having so many clients in foreclosure):  “A person with bitachon does not worry about parnasah.  He knows that Hashem has plenty of money.  And he knows that Hashem loves us, despite how lowly we are.  He knows that Hashem wants to do good for us.”

Hakhel Note:  When one feels a weakening in the area of bitachon and parnasah, he can review the Pesukim in Bitachon (as we have previously provided) found by clicking hereIn the alternative, one can review the short quote from Rav Pincus above--or even just recall Rav Gifter Z’tl’s succinct words of reminder--”We don’t make a living--we take a living!”



Special Note Three:  From another reader:  “I have a question.  Did Kayin and Hevel also eat from the Eitz HaDaas?  If not, then how could Hevel have died if there was supposed to be no misah to the world but for the sin of the Eitz HaDaas?  Is it correct to state that he is the one person who never left Gan Eden--and is there any ramifications of this for the future--that there lived a human being who never sinned and never left Gan Eden? 

Hakhel Note:  We welcome reader responses.



Special Note Four:  From another reader:  “In following the goal of Teshuva Bechol Yom (which is great), I thought of this:  When I am at a crossroads and must make a decision as to whether to do something--like eat more, say something, or go somewhere, at least one time a day I will ask myself--what is the better choice for my Avodas Hashem?  In this way, I will afford myself the daily opportunity of reawakening.”

Hakhel Note: This is a wonderful thought, even if you are not working on Teshuva Bechol Yom.  Another possibility in fulfilling Teshuva Bechol Yom is to start the Al Cheits, and put in study/effort on one per day--beginning with the first one--BeOness U’veRatzon.  With this daily ambition, one’s entire day will have an underlying objective of improvement laced through it.  For guidance and assistance in your daily practical applications for each Al Cheit, may we refer you to the Artscroll Vidui, the Vidui Booklet, or Pathways to Prayer.



Special Note Five:  Before we leave Parshas Noach and begin the direct lessons from our Avos, we provide the following practical teachings:


1.  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 you ask someone to do something for you or send someone on a mission, think about whether your decision not to do it yourself is warranted (is it laziness?), and whether he/she 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!


2.  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!


3.  HaRav Avrohom Kalmanowitz, Z’tl, once asked why Noach had to suffer at the hands of the lion, who smote him for not having been properly “served” his food.  After all, was not Noach taking care of all of these creatures as best he could?! HaRav Kalmanowitz answers that Hashem was providing Noach--and each and every one of us--with an essential lesson.  Noach was ALWAYS TO REMEMBER that by Hashem’s grace he had survived when so many had perished, and Noach was ALWAYS TO REMEMBER that he had survived for a great purpose--to take care of those who had also survived, and who needed his help.  The lesson to us is fundamental: We are all survivors of the Holocaust (whether it be first, second or third generation--does it make a difference?)--and we must ALWAYS REMEMBER that we have survived for a purpose.  Moreover, we must help those who have also survived, but may not be as capable as we are--teach them the Torah’s ways, assist them with Chessed, and see to it that they too continue to survive and reach their own purpose in life.  It is quite likely that more of our people perished in the Holocaust than those who perished in the Flood.  This makes our role all the more responsible...and our task all the greater.



FOR WOMEN--available by phone in the United States.  Aneinu, which recently began a daily Brochos text message (available by email as well) geared for women is now expanding into other important areas--Shemiras HaLashon and Hilchos ShabbosThe Halachos of Shemiras HaLashon will primarily be taken from Guard Your Tongue, The Daily Companion and other Seforim of the Chofetz Chaim.  The Halachos of Shabbos will primarily be taken from the Sefer Ayil Meshulash,  Lamed Tes Melachos by Rabbi Ribiat, Mishna Berura and Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchasah.


Sample of Daily Texts:


For Shemiras HaLashon:  Someone who, chas veshalom, habitually speaks lashon hora, is denigrating a Mitzva, and it is as if he happens to eat Chazir for breakfast every morning.


For Shabbos:  We will begin with Hilchos Borer. Our first Halachah: Borer applies when there is a mixture or combination of desired and undesired objects. The Melachah of borer is selecting the undesired object.


In order to subscribe, please text 216-235-4330 or email dafnotes@gmail.com.  



PARENTING TIPS VIA EMAIL by the world-renowned mechanech, Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita are now available!  To subscribe, please send an email to tips@kavey.org.  To join live Project Kavey parenting lines, or to consult privately with Rabbi Brezak, we provide the following additional contact information:  415-639-3002 (US), 0207-043-5619 (UK), 082-441-2713 (SA), 052-769-7588 (IL).


The following is a sample Tip:


Remain Calm:  Reacting calmly is more important than reacting correctly. Even when in doubt regarding the correct response to a particular situation, your calm reaction will benefit your children. Conversely, reacting as a result of anxiety, even when you are correct, will not benefit your children. Hence, if successful parenting is your goal, calm down!
Kavey Adds:  These tips have been designed to improve the quality of your family life. Applying them is simple and easy.  Just ask yourself two questions:  Is this important to me?  How can I begin to apply this in a small and easy way?


Special Note One:  There is a powerful message delivered by Rabbi Yitzchok Steinwurzel, Shlita, of Flatbush relating to the recent tragic burning of 11 Sifrei Torah as a result of an electrical fire in the Aron Kodesh itself.  Rabbi Steinwurzel pointed to the extraordinary event of an electrical fire within an Aron Kodesh, and posited that perhaps this was to remind us of how antithetical electronic communication devices are to a holy place which should be reserved exclusively for matters of Kedusha.  We must take the lesson from this tragedy, which is not relegated to a particular community, or a particular country--but to all our people, and the Sifrei Torah which belong to all of us.  We must try to break the habit, which must be so treasured by the Yetzer Hara, of taking out the blackberry or phone even if it is before or after davening, while you are waiting for a chavrusah or shiur to begin, and even if it is only for a ‘brief moment’ or otherwise ‘important’.  Perhaps we should add that we should not take out the device -- but rather leave the Bais Haknesses or Bais HaMedrash--even if the communication is “for a Mitzvah.”  We had written a month ago about the need for each person to make a “Cell phone Takkanah.”  We’d like to repeat and reemphasize this sincere (and very much needed) plea now--as the year begins to unfold.  



Special Note Two:  For those who are continuing the daily study of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi, we provide the following reminders of important and beautiful points recently studied.  For those who have not yet begun, may the following be an incentive to do so, as we are still near the beginning of the Sefer:


A.  It is forbidden to write Hashem’s name in any language in the course of a correspondence or a letter.  “And many are mistaken and write Hashem’s name in a language other than Lashon HaKodesh, or write the word “a-d-i-e-u” (which in French means “with Hashem”).  This is forbidden because after a while the correspondence will end up in the trash, and this will cause poverty because the Sheim Shamayim has been disgraced.  One must exercise wisdom and strength in preventing this from occurring in our midst…additionally, one should say the word Hashem rather than “Adoshem,” for the latter is not considered to be Derech Kavod.”


B.  When answering Amen to Brochos which contain a request (such as Atta Chonein, HaMachazir Shechinaso LeTzion or Sim Shalom), one should not only have in mind that the Bracha is true, but also that it is your hope that the Bracha will be fulfilled “BeMeheirah--quickly.”  Similarly, in Kaddish or another Tefillah for the future, one’s Kavannah and plea should be that the request be fulfilled speedily  (as the Mishna Berurah explains, we all know that the words of Kaddish will be fulfilled--we are davening, and answering Amen, with the goal and purpose that the fulfillment will be speedily!)”


C.  Before making a Bracha on food or on a Mitzvah, one should take a moment to reflect upon the fact that he is blessing his Creator, who, by His great Chesed (“Asher Hifli Chasdo Imo”) has given him this food, or commanded him in this Mitzvah.  A person should not make a Bracha out of custom without aforethought--it is this which angers Hashem, as Hashem expressed to Yeshaya HaNavi (29:13): “The nation has approached Me with its mouth and honored Me with its lips, but their heart is far from Me.”  Hashem then goes on to describe what the punishment r’l will be for these thoughtless (literally) people.  The Kitzur recommends that if one makes a Bracha out loud (rather than under this lips), this will serve to arouse one’s Kavannah--achieving great success in making Brachos properly!



Special Note Three:  We intend to have more about Hakhel’s meaningful Yarchei Kallah relating to “Living Bein HaAkum” held yesterday.  In the interim, we relate a powerful message conveyed by Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, as published in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Aeurbach, Z’tl.  Rabbi Eisen pointed out that one of the most serious issues in “eating out” today is Bishul Akum because of technological innovations, such as the highly efficient but Halachically troublesome convection oven.  A certain Rav HaMachshir approached Rav Shlomo Zalmen with a certain “Kula” innovation to aid in avoiding Bishul Akum.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen told him: “I don’t want to hear Kulos--leniencies--in Bishul Akum.  Instead, we should be stricter and enhance Bishul Yisroel.  One Hidur in Bishul Yisroel in America can save an intermarriage in Paris!” HaRav Shlomo Zalmen exclaimed.  We can look for all kinds of Eitzos in Kiruv Rechokim and in Kiruv Kerovim--but one of them clearly is in our own personal conduct relating to ideas and cultures which we should be so carefully and cautiously maintaining our distance from.

Hakhel Note:  It is no coincidence, as it never is, that students of Daf Yomi will soon be leaving Mesechta Avodah Zara, and shortly thereafter will begin Seder Kodshim--having to do with the Bais HaMikdash, our elevated service there, and Kedushas Yisroel.  The lesson is clear--if we leave the Avodah Zara, we can reveal, achieve and attain the latent Kedusha which is so much a part and parcel of each and every one of us!





1.  Please remember our goal--Teshuvah Bechol Yom.  Please take a good look at your Kabalos Card--after all today is 30 days since Shabbos Shuva!


2.  A gentle reminder of our suggestion on focusing each month on a different one of the Ani Ma’amins, so that all 13 are reviewed through the 5771 year.  Of course, our monthly focus can be cumulative of the previous month(s), so that by the end of the year we can truly be bolstered in the fundamentals of our faith.  The Sefer Nefesh Shimshon--Sha’arei Emunah reviews these 13 Fundamentals in greater detail.  This great Sefer has been published in English under the title Nefesh Shimshon--Gates of Emunah, with the subtitle Living with Faith Bringing Hashem Into our Daily Lives (Feldheim, 2010).



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In the Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, we added the phrase U’Lekaparas Pesha which we will continue to add through Adar Sheini, because of the Leap Year.  What does the  term “U’Lekaparas Pesha--and atonement of willful sin” have to do with a Leap Year?  Is there a specific Pesha for which we need atonement for that relates to a Leap Year?  We look forward to your thoughts.



Special Note One:  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, as we noted last week, Noach was criticized for this, with the floodwaters being known as the “Mei Noach,” because he should have still asked for mercy--especially when lives were at stake.


The Sefer, however, gives a second explanation as to why Noach was criticized, based upon the following incident.  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, once related that a Karlin Chosid had the occasion to spend Shabbos in Vienna with the Chutkover Chassidim.  The Karlin Chassidim recite the davening very loudly, and the Chutkover Chassidim, softly and calmly.  The Karlin Chassid asked the Chutkover Rebbe whether he could shout his davening, as was his tradition.  The Chutkover Rebbe responded that the Chutkov custom was not to daven loudly, and that he should adhere to this custom while davening with Chutkov.  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, 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! 



Special Note Two:  There is a truly amazing lesson provided in last week’s Parsha.  After Noach leaves the Teivah, the Posuk records “Vayivareich 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 each 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 with in the past--and hope that the Bracha will elevate and uplift you to a new and greater height!  (HaRav Itzele Volozhiner, Z'tl).



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



PARSHA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  If we can interpret Noach’s status both Leshevach (in a positive way) and LiGenai (in a negative way)--why would we interpret it in a negative way?  Don’t we have an obligation to judge everyone favorably?  We welcome your response.



BRACHOS QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What Bracha does one make on a Challah, cake, or cookie dough if he/she wants to taste it before putting it into the oven to bake?  Because we want to avoid any michshol, we will provide the answer here.  Both the Sefer The Halachos of Brachos by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita (Artscroll) and the Sefer Vezos Habracha by Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita (Hebrew) write that because the dough is not in its finished form, the appropriate Bracha is Shehakol (if a sufficient amount is eaten the appropriate after Bracha would accordingly be Borei Nefashos). See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 208, seif katan 5 and Mishna Berurah there seif katan 19.


Now that we are on the extremely important topic of Brachos, we received the following updated information from the OU regarding the Brachos (Rishonoa and Achronos) on General Mills cereals.  Some of it may be surprising to you. Please read it carefully!

The Bracha on the following cereals are:                                   

Basic 4



Cheerios-Banana Nut















Chex-Honey Nut



Chex-Multi bran












Cookie Crisp



Cookie Crisp-Sprinkles



Country Corn Flakes--corn flour                     



Fiber One (All Flavors)



Kix (All Flavors)



French Toast Crunch






Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs



Total Pomegranate



Total Corn Flakes--corn flour                     




AH=Al Hamichya

BN=Borei Nefashon



We thank the OU for this important information!



Hakhel Note: According to HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, one must eat specifically a Kezayis of the five grains Bichidei Achilas Pras to recite an Al HaMichya--and other ingredients should not be included.   Additional Hakhel Note:  One other point that the above illustrates is that a Bracha Rishona of Mezonos does not necessarily mean that the Bracha Achrona is Al Hamichya. Telma cereal bars lists the Bracha Rishona as a Mezonos on the label--but because it is a rice product the Brocha Achrona is Borei Nefashos (not listed).  We have to remember to read labels--this important habit can save us from r’l Brachos Levatala and concomitantly allow us to make beautiful and appropriate brachos!



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


1.  Many have pondered why Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos (Tehillim 92) is the Shir Shel Yom for Shabbos.  The only reference to the Shabbos in the whole Mizmor appears to be only in the first phrase:  “Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos.”  The Brisker Rav, Z’tl, explains that the Mizmor does in fact express praise and thanks to Hashem for creating the world--and then goes beyond to explain that when the Seven Days of Creation were completed, and Shabbos came, Adam HaRishon (who composed this Kepitel) realized that the world would continue to function through its re-creation every moment following its initial creation by Hashem’s direct and constant “hanhaga” of the world thereafter.  This great concept especially lies in the words “Mah Gadlu Ma’asecha Hashem”--which is a Shir over the Creation itself, immediately followed by the words “Me’od Amku Machshivosecha”--which is a Shir over Hashem’s subsequent hanhaga over the world every second of every day.  The Chapter actually then goes on to describe how the hanhaga works over time, with the blossoming of the Reshaim and their ultimate destruction, as well as the raising of Tzadikim (“Vatarem Kireim Karni”).  Hashem’s Hanhaga in this world will be ongoing and continue until this world ends--when the “Yom Shekulo Shabbos” occurs--which, as the ultimate Shabbos, is the ultimate culmination of all of Creation!


2. The following Halachos are excerpted from the Halachos of Refuah on Shabbos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, and Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth M.D.:


a.  Conjunctivitis is usually an inflammation of the membrane that covers the eyeball.  If one develops conjunctivitis on Shabbos he may fill a plastic bag with cold water and use it in place of a cold compress.  One may not use a wet cloth or towel.  One is generally not permitted to use lubricating eye drops (artificial tears) or medicated drops until after Shabbos.  If a doctor had seen the infection before Shabbos and prescribed antibiotic ointment or eye drops, one may continue using them on Shabbos.


b.  When applying the ointment, one should squeeze the desired amount on top of the wound being careful not to smear it on and being careful not to rub it in.  One may then put a bandage or gauze pad onto the wound over the ointment even though this will ultimately cause the ointment to spread itself out.  Application of topical medication should be done with a Shinuy, for example one should cause the ointment to fall from above the wound onto the wound, rather than applying it directly onto the wound.



Special Note Two:  The Mabul described in tomorrow’s Parsha 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. 


We provide two practical and great lessons which result:


1.  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita brings the following mashal adapted from the Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar Ahavas Hashem, Chapter 6): 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.”  The parable illustrates that if 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!


 2.  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!


One can remind himself of this important theme every Shabbos in the Zimra of “Yom Shabboson Ain Lishkoach”--which concludes with the words “Ka’asher Nishbata Al Mai Noach”!  To start with, let’s remind think of a new way to help others--as we sing these words tomorrow!



Special Note Three:  The gematria of Mar Cheshvan (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.


One of our innovative readers wrote that if we take the second “Vuv” out of Mar Cheshvan and you 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!”


From all of the above may we should take the lesson to especially increase our Torah learning this month.  Let us begin tomorrow--Shabbos--the first day of the month!



Special Note One:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter17.pdf  the seventeenth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on Birchas HaShachar produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others.



Special Note Two:  We provide a wonderful addition to yesterday’s Bulletin.  We had mentioned that there were two Pesukim that are found in Pesukei DeZimra and asked our readers to identify them.  We have now discovered an additional three Pesukim--this time in a row in Pesukei DeZimra  from Hallel.  Please identify (and focus on) these as well!



Special Note Three:  We have received worldwide interest in the “Kan Mefureshes” Gemach with requests to establish Gemachs in other locations.  Once again, please call 732-370-2673 or 917-573-9251.  A Rav suggested the idea of translating the first Mishne into English, for the benefit of many.  One reader was kind enough to emphasize that HaRav Elya Guttmacher, Z’tl, writes that this may help for a Yeshua in any situation (not just for a Refuah), and that if the Yeshua does not come on the first day, he can try on the second day, and a third day as well.  Additional Note:  In Cleveland one can obtain the Sefer by contacting aneinu@gmail.com



Special Note Four:  There is a marvelous lesson from the Alter of Slobodka derived from Tehillim Chapter 136 which we recite every Shabbos (otherwise known as Hallel HaGadol).  This Chapter contains 26 Pesukim which end with the phrase “Ki LeOlam Chasdo--for His kindness endures forever.”  Of these 26 Pesukim, one Posuk (Pasuk 7) is dedicated to Hashem’s creation of the luminaries “LeOsei Orim Gedolim Ki LeOlam Chasdo.”  The next two Pesukim refer to the sun shining during the day (Pasuk 8), and the moon and stars reigning at night (Pasuk 9).  Thus, the Alter notes that only one Pasuk (Pasuk 7) needs to be dedicated to the creation of all of these celestial beings--while the following two Pesukim are needed describe how they are ordered.  The lesson:  that Seder, organization and order, is so important that Dovid HaMelech elaborates more on how they function than on the creation of the great bodies themselves.  We all can take the lesson--it is worthwhile to spend time to put our lives in order, as this in of itself is a very great accomplishment.



Special Note Five:  Several last points and pointers relating to the conclusion of the month of Tishrei, and the lessons that we will take with us:


1.  We had pointed to the Sha’arei Teshuva who teaches that acts of Kiddush Hashem can obviate the need for death as a Kappara for Chillul Hashem.  We were pointed to a beautiful story that appeared in Hamodia Magazine and written by Rabbi Chaim A. Weinberg, Shlita.  Rabbi Weinberg wrote of a Torah Jew in a taxi who still had two city blocks to get to his destination.  He saw a person outside trying to flag down a cab, so he told the driver to stop: “I only have two blocks to my destination--and I don’t want you to lose a fare,”  he told the taxi driver.  The driver thankfully stopped and remarked something like: “Now I know why G-d chose you as His people.”  We should consider how simple acts such as this can in fact be great achievements and even save lives--and that those very lives may even include your own!


2.  In the year 5771, we will have 13 months.  There are 13 Ani Ma’amins. The first of the 13 clearly expresses the theme of Tishrei--“I believe with complete faith that Hashem creates and guides all creatures and that He alone made, makes, and will make everything.”   May we suggest that we take the time and make the effort in the second month of the year to focus on the second Ani Ma’amin, then the third Ani Ma’amin in the third month and so on throughout the year.  In this way for a period of about 30 days we will focus on, study and gain a better understanding of one of the 13 Fundamentals of our Faith.  By the end of the year, we will have a fuller appreciation for so much that we believe in!


3.  As we continue our effort to maintain our “Teshuvah Bechol Yom,” we provide the following suggestion developed by a reader:  “Sometimes I go back and forth as to whether I should or should not do something--get up, or not get up, say the words or not say the words, go there or not go there.  Many of these dilemmas may be debates within us between our Yetzer Hara and our Yetzer Hatov.  One thing that may help in coming to the right decision and in determining which side is actually the argument of the Yetzer Hara is by committing to jot down or summarize the relative equities of each position.  When on paper, one may recognize the position that may produce a greater amount of nachas for the person--the right decision.  Of course, this cannot be done all the time because it takes a little bit of time, but may be important when others are impacted, or when the ramifications may affect one’s entire day or beyond.”  Hakhel Note:  Anything to battle the cunning and guile of the Yetzer Hara is worth a try!


4.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi Program for this year is still in its nascent stage and we once again urge you to join if you have not already done so.  We once again provide by clicking here a link for the calendar In Tuesday’s daily lesson, the Kitzur brought the words of Rabbeinu Yonah as follows:  “Even from the way a person walks one can tell if he is a Chacham.”  Each of us can all think for a moment--What am I doing as I walk to the bus, to the store, to Shul?  Are my eyes wandering around looking to see what is doing in someone’s car, how children are playing, how people are talking to each other on the corner, what needs to be fixed on that house, or how this person is dressed or that one looks?  Am I on my cell phones, talking loudly enough for everyone to hear?  On the other hand, am I thinking about something that I needed some quiet time for, being careful not to look at things that I should not be looking at and/or that are not my business?  This is a beautiful Avodah to work on in the coming months as an exercise in self control--will you demonstrate that you are, as Rabbeinu Yonah puts it a “Chacham”, while in the open and exposed environment that you find yourself in on a constant and daily basis.  Dovid HaMelech succinctly  summarized it for us all with the following Pasuk:  “Horeini Hashem Darkecha Unecheini BeOrach Mishor..Teach me Your way Hashem and lead me on the path of integrity” (Tehillim 27:11).  Perhaps we can think about these words as we step outside so that Hashem leads our way and our trip is a “smart”, useful and productive one!


5.  Many of us gave Tzedakah at very important moments over the past month.  At this point after Yom Tov, when people’s finances may be a bit strained, it may an extremely beautiful and important gesture for a person to extend Tzedakah to needy families and important institutions.  Giving when it is a bit harder, and when others may not be giving as much, takes on greater meaning and significance--and shows a degree of Mesiras Nefesh for your concern of others!  Write a check today…because you love, and because you care!



As we continue to glow in Tishrei’s light, we provide the following additional points and pointers:


1.  After having recited Hallel for nine days in a row, many may feel a let-down in not experiencing the continued ebullience and song inherent in its words and recitation.  Don’t be disappointed, for we maintain our connection by reciting two Pesukim from Hallel in Pesukei DeZimra every morning.  Can you identify (and focus on) these two special Pesukim?


2.  HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky, Z’tl, provides a beautiful teaching relating to the Na’anuim--to the shaking of the Daled Minim during Hallel.  He explains that the Na’anuim are intended to indicate that we thank Hashem for all that he does for us in this direction, in that direction, that direction, etc.  If we thoughtfully demonstrate our thanks of Hashem with our Na’anuim, Hashem in turn will provide us with more blessing--and prevent harm and difficulties (symbolized by “bad winds”) from coming to us from these very directions.  We can take this thought another step and reflect upon how important it is to have Kavannah and/or positive thoughts when undertaking activities which could be Mitzvos, but instead are undertaken mindlessly or because one feels required to do so (just as the Na’anuim can be thoughtlessly performed).  Cleaning the home and dishes, doing homework with a child, running an errand in which others will benefit, all can bring greater bracha to you if performed with thought and purpose.  Furthermore, just as with the Na’anuim we may not even fully understand all that we are achieving, so too when helping others or performing another Mitzvah we can never fully fathom what we are really accomplishing.  At the very least, the Sefer Yesod VeShoresh Ha’avodah writes, with the performance of this task or that act we should have in mind that by doing it we want to give Nachas Ruach to Hashem. 


3.  Our singing on Simchas Torah should remind us to revert back to the constant and eternal Simcha that we as a nation are especially blessed with because the Torah is such a part and parcel of our very essence and being.  Every time we say “Oy” or sigh, or the like, perhaps we should try to follow it with a brief rendition of Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu, Toras Hashem Temima, or other unique or words which move you and which highlight *your* special relationship with *your* infinite gift.


4.  It is said that each of the Seven Days of Sukkos represents one of the Seven Ananei HaKavod--with each day being an additional Anan.  What, then, is Shemini Atzeres?  We may suggest that it represents not the protective Anan in each direction, but the Hashgacha Pratis over the individual within the Anan.  It is even a greater closeness to Hashem than the Ananei HaKavod around us in all directions represent.  With this in mind, we can understand a seemingly difficult juxtaposition in our daily Shemone Esrei Tefillah.  After asking Hashem for the Bais HaMikdash to be rebuilt in the Bracha of Retzei and pleading  that “our eyes see Hashem’s return to Tzion,” we surprisingly begin the next Bracha with “Modim Anachnu Lach--we thank You Hashem for….”  If we have just expressed our sore need for the Bais HaMikdash, how can we so quickly seemingly take about face and immediately express our overflowing thanks, when so much is missing?!  We may suggest that just as Shemini Atzeres represents the Simcha of our relationship with Hashem even beyond the protective warmth of the Sukkah, so too, does Modim express our recognition that even without a Bais Hamikdash, we enjoy the incredible benefits of a personal and direct Hashgacha Pratis relationship with Hashem.  Just as this is one of the concluding messages of our recent Chagim, so too is it one of the concluding messages of our Shemone Esrei three times a day.  The lasting message of Hashgacha Pratis should stay with us throughout the year…and throughout the day!


5.  We began the month of Tishrei with the knowledge that on Rosh Hashana our lives and our livelihood will be determined for the coming year.  We concluded the last Chag of Tishrei with the Tefillah for Geshem, asking for sustenance of blessing over the winter and the coming year.  An essential lesson, then, that extends throughout the entire month is that Hashem is the Provider, and that “Kochi VeOtzem Yadi--my strength and the power of my hand that accomplished this” is simply not part of the Torah  Jew’s lexicon.  Every so often, when realizing what one has accomplished or attained, he should express (or at least think to himself) “Thank you Hashem for this accomplishment.  It is not Kochi VeOtzem Yadi, it is You!!”  With this thought or statement alone, one will demonstrate that he has taken much from Rosh Hashana…from Yom Kippur…from Sukkos and from Shemini Atzeres!

6.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah urges the following three words:  “Teshuvah Bechol Yom--Teshuvah every day!”  By looking at your Kabbalah list every day, and reflecting/acting upon it just a little bit, you not only be performing Teshuvah for one day, ten days, thirty or forty days, but for seven days a week, 365 days a year.  What Nachas Ruach to Hashem-- What Nachas Ruach to yourself!!



Special Note One:   As we study the Parshios in Bereishis, we remind ourselves that the Torah is not, Chas V’Shalom, a history book, reminding us of the events of early Man.  To the Torah Jew, history is not an interesting study, something that satisfies our curiosity as to past cultures and civilizations.  Rather, it represents the continuing Hashgacha Pratis of Hashem to Whom “one thousand years is like one year” in his guidance and supervision of feeble man as he attempts to conquer the world.  The Navi teaches that, when the Moshiach comes, there will no longer be wars among people.  The commentaries explain that this is so because the Moshiach will resolve all disputes among people, making war obsolete.  It appears that we are living in a time of what the world would call “history in the making,” as the world’s finances shake, and political uncertainty stretches 6,000 miles from Eretz Yisroel to the United States.  We should not view this as “history in the making,” but should instead utilize it as an advanced opportunity for coming closer to Hashem through Tefillah, and by replacing all of the secular analyses of current world events with an awareness of Hashem’s pervasive presence.  It all brings us back to the first Siman in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim--Shivisi Hashem LeNegdi Samid--let us keep Hashem before us **all the time** as we navigate our course through these pages in the history books.



Special Note Two:  Rav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, teaches that the Torah does not say that Hashem created Chava and brought her to Adam for the purpose of having future generations, but actually simply because “it is not good for man to be alone” (Beraishis 2:18).  In fact, what was behind the mistake that Kayin made in killing Hevel was that he believed it would be better for him alone to succeed his father, then to do so jointly with Hevel.  This was again Cham’s mistake when he prevented his father from having further children (there were already three brothers to live together, and that was more than enough)---and his punishment was--measure for measure--that he would be subservient to his brothers, and not co-exist with them on an equal par.  Cham’s sin here was exacerbated not only by his failure to learn from the world shattering sin of Kayin, but also by the fact that the Torah provides conclusive evidence that Kayin himself corrected his error.  Where does the Torah show us this?  Immediately after he was banished from Aden, the Posuk (Beraishis 4:17) teaches “He built a city, and he called the city after his son ‘Chanoch’.”  Who was Kayin building a city for--for the few people then alive?  And why does the Torah tell us that he named it Chanoch?  Rav Salomon, based upon the explanation given by the K’sav V’Hakabala explains that Kayin was demonstrating to the world forever that camaraderie, companionship, togetherness, and devotedness and dedication to others, is an essential element of mankind.  We should not view ourselves as “paying a price for living in society”, but instead as reaping the real benefits of living with others.  The reason that the Torah goes out of its way to teach that the name of the city was Chanoch (same root as chinuch--education), is because the Torah is telling us that we must constantly indoctrinate--educate and re-educate ourselves--in this teaching.


Secluding ourselves, living separate and apart from others is not good.  We must foster and treasure relationships.  We need only once again review the Viduy and Al Chait to realize what an important part Bein Odom L’Chaveiro plays in our lives.  Indeed, Chazal teach (Avos 1:6) that we must even go to the extent of “knei lecha chover--acquiring a friend.”  We see the sincere dedication that Avrohom Avinu had to others in the upcoming Parshios--risking his life, for example, even for those who separated themselves from him.  We should take all of these lessons seriously, and try to improve, over the next several weeks, upon our relationships with others--especially our own close family members.  It is no coincidence (as it never is) that all the relationships described above were with close family.  This is a great place to start--less painful words, less sharp criticism, less being annoyed and angry, and more of the love, appreciation, thanks, ...and a showing of true humanity!



Special Note Three:  Rav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’TL, (Igaros U’Ksavim, page 4) writes that when he was once on a flight from Zurich to Stockholm , he reflected upon the fact that both trains and planes travel, and that a person can reach his destination with either one.  The material difference between them is that whereas the train remains on the ground as it proceeds, the plane not only proceeds in the right direction, but ascends through open air space at an optimum altitude and then reaches its destination sooner.  Rav Wolbe notes that in life, as well, there are two means of advancement.  The first is progressing--but progressing only along the ground, which many human beings attempt to do at one point or another in their lives.  The second kind of advancement involves lifting oneself up and above this earth--which is the progress that one’s fulfillment of the Torah can achieve.  The Torah not only gives one the opportunity to travel faster and reach our destination quicker, but also to soar above the impediments of even mountain-sized obstacles.  One can literally “spread his wings” and fly higher than the winds and clouds below.


The greatest effort in airplane travel is required in lift off--getting off the ground.  The Torah teaches “Vayeesa Yaakov Raglav--and Yaakov lifted his feet” (Bereishis 29:1).  Our job in life is to “lift our feet”--to take off, to rise above the earthiness within us and to raise ourselves above the ground.  The Sefer Orchos Tzadikim writes that while animals with four legs typically face downwards towards the earth, human beings face sideways.  This is to teach us that just as easily as we look down, we can look up.  One way to grow in this area is by taking a physical desire felt during the day and not fulfilling it, or by feeling real joy during a spiritual activity such as davening or learning Torah.  Similarly, one can attempt to rise above the animal’s self-centered nature by doing something one time a day for somebody else, instead of for himself.


Why take the train--when you can and should take the plane?



REMINDER:  The “Kan Mefureshes” Gemach has issued the following notification to the public:  “Upon the request of the many who have called our Gemach with questions and stories, we will share with you once again details of a special Segulah.  First, let us share with you what happened last week.  A Yid called us at the recommendation of his friend.  His father in-law was unconscious and had not eaten for nine days.  The doctors gave up, and were planning to tell the family to place the patient in a hospice the following day.  After performing the Segulah which we will repeat below, he awoke and requested food and something to read, much to the relief of his family.  This is just one of the many Nissim that we have experienced.  This Segulah can be used for minor to serious medical issues.  Some background to the Segulah:  Rav Elya Guttmacher’s son wrote a Peirush on Maseches Kinnim called “Kan Mefureshes.”  He passed away at a young age, and when he was niftar, Rav Elya promised that whoever learns his son’s Peirush will not need the care of a doctor.  Rav Chaim and Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky give copies of this Segulah to those who come to them for a Bracha for a Refuah.  For this Segulah, one learns the very first Mishnah of the Mesechta with the Rav, Tosafos Yom Tov and the Peirush of Kan Mefureshes and then says the Tefillah printed in the Hakdamah of the sefer.  Follow the instructions printed there.  Obviously, this can only be done by a man.  For women who wish to use this Segulah and do not have anyone who can learn for them, we have arranged with several Bnei Torah to learn the Mishnah for a nominal fee on short notice.  For further inquires, you may call us at 732-370-2673.  To borrow the sefer in Lakewood you may call: 732-370-2673 or 732-942-0649.  In Brooklyn , you may call 917-573-925l.  In Baltimore , you may call Moshe and Lisa Roch.  If you know of Gemachim of this sort elsewhere, please let us know so that we can be mezakeh the Rabbim.  We wish all of K’lal Yisroel only Gezunt!”



Special Note One:  We highly recommend a free email--A daily lesson from “Chofetz Chaim: Lessons in Truth,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.  To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail at truth@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe or unsubscribe.  What better way to start the New Year than with truth?!



Special Note Two:  Now that the Yomim Tovim and even Isru Chag have passed, let us take a moment to look back and hold on tightly.  Some suggestions:


1.  HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, explains that just as Charata and Yagon, feeling badly over one’s Aveiros are part of the Teshuvah process, so is Simchas HaKappara--the joy of forgiveness, an integral conclusion of Teshuvah.  Although Sukkos, our Z’man Simchaseinu has passed, we are very much still in Tishrei and should continue to be glad of heart over our Teshuvah, and the Kappara that we have received!


2.  This week, we should fix and repair the monetary issues that we pledged to take care of while still in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah and Yom Kippur.  Who do we owe money to?  What claims do others have against us?  How can they be resolved?  What property of others is in our possession?  We should also, of course, be careful to redeem our pledges to Shuls, Tzedakah, for Yizkor, etc.  Let us not tarry!


3.  Many of us may have decided that we were going to bring our Ka’as more under control.  If one finds it difficult to keep his commitment in the way originally intended, may we recommend that he pick one person (perhaps the one person who he gets angry at the most, or the person who is the easiest to get angry at) and commit Bli Neder not get angry at him. 


4.  One of the “Al Chaits” that we recited ten times on Yom Kippur was “Be’Imutz HaLev--with hardness of heart.”  Are we softening up a bit--especially to the collectors who come knocking at the door, or disturb us as we enter and exit Shul?  A warm smile and word of kindness can sometimes go much further than a quarter or a dollar.


5.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi Program started with Siman Aleph this past Shabbos.  If you have not yet started, you can still easily catch up, and bask in a wealth of Halacha, to grow surely and steadily over the course of 5771.  Here is but one example from the Kitzur’s teaching over the weekend, which actually relates to Parshas Bereishis:  “One should wash his face every morning to honor his Creator, for “Betzelem Elokim Nivrah Ha’Adam--man was created in the Image of Hashem.”  What a great reason to wash one’s face!  The Kitzur then beautifully continues that one should wash his mouth out in the morning so that he will be able to recite Hashem’s Name BeKedusha U’Vetehara--with holiness and purity (!). 


6.  Yesterday was the Yahrzeit of the Chasam Sofer.  Perhaps one of the most famous stories relating to the Chasam Sofer was that he refused to take a Bachur into the PressburgYeshiva whom he had noticed had stepped on Lulavim which had been hanging as decorations on the Sukkah that had been taken down.  We can do our part to show our love and respect for the Mitzvos of Sukkos even after Yom Tov.  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Vol. VI, pp.450-451) writes that one should keep his Lulav, Hadasim and Aravos (and his Aravos from Hoshana Rabba) as a Segulah for Shemira (see there, footnotes 25, 26, and 27 for other Heavenly benefits as well).  Likewise, the Esrog should be made into jelly “Sheyisbarchu Bo Anshei HaBayis--so that the people of the house will be blessed.”  Many keep the Lulav, Hadasim, and Aravos near the entrance door of their home.


7.  Just as a sick person who is healed should stay in healthy air and eat healthy foods to ensure that his Refuah remains a Refuah Sheleimah and does not recur, so too, must one be sure to strengthen his Teshuvah by being MeChazeik and incentivizing himself.  As we have previously noted, Rav Pam, Z’tl, would urge his students to write down the Kabbalos that he made and look at them from time to time, in order to be reminded of one’s higher plans for himself for the coming year. 


8.  The most severe sin, as recorded by the Rambam and the Sha’arei Teshuvah (based upon Chazal at the end of Mesechta Yoma) is the sin of Chillul Hashem--doing something wrong resulting in others learning from your actions.  In order to atone for this grave sin, even Yissurim are insufficient, and Misah, death together with Teshuvah is needed to bring about Kappara.  However, the Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Kiddush Hashem--doing the right thing (and others learning from that as well) obviates the need for death and allows for one’s Kappara while alive even from this most heinous of sins.  Whatever our Kabbalos were, we should all try to improve in our acts of Kiddush Hashem to bring about full Kappara.  Especially in these turbulent times when r’l plans of new international terror is once again in the forefront, we must do battle as Torah Jews--as the fanatical terrorists bring desecration to Hashem’s Name, we cause Hashem’s name to be loved by our actions, by our deeds, by our words.  The Kappara we attain may not only be for ourselves, but may reach far and beyond and bring about the sanctification of Hashem’s name which is sufficient to bring the Geulah Sheleimah--may it come speedily--and because of our acts of Kiddush Hashem--in our days!


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