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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  Readers Respond:


A.  “While I completely agree and was mechunach to stand for zekeinim by a chupah, I'd like to correct the notion that you don't need to stand for the Chosson and Kallah yet. The Mishna in Bikkurim (3:3) teaches that one should stand for one on the way to performing a Mitzvah.  That's why we also stand for the Kallah. I heard this directly from Rav Scheinberg, Shlita.”


B.  “I wish to add something regarding respecting the elderly:  The elderly have so much to say, but no one to tell it too, because we are so much running, we can't stop.  I visit older people in an assisted living facility or in hospitals, and just listen to them talk.  They may forget about this, but at that time, it means a lot to them.  Maybe get your readers to speak to the elderly, because in a few years, we are going to be that age, and who will speak to us then??”



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Rizhiner Rebbe, Z’tl.  The Rebbe was known for emphasizing the words of Chazal on the last Pasuk of Tehillim:  Kol HaNeshama Tehallel Kah….”  Chazal teach that we thank Hashem Al Kol Neshima--for each new breath.  The Rebbe explained that Chazal’s teaching is a formula to avoid dejection, disappointment and depression.  One must recognize that every new breath is a new opportunity, a new and fresh start in the continuum of life.  The previous breath may not have been a good or successful one--but the current or next breath will be a breath of fresh air!



Special Note Three:  Advance Notice!  This coming Friday, 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 Yahrtzeit l’ilui nishmaso:  Learn Torah—especially Mishnayos;  Give Tikun;  Dedicate your Daf Yomi Shiur or Daf Yomi study, and review the Daf one extra time, in his memory.



Special Note Four:  The following points and pointers are excerpted from the Leket Hanhagos L’Ben Torah, containing excerpts from the teachings of the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl.  To obtain a copy of the entire pamphlet, you may call 718-471-1881 (US) or 02-537-1806 (E.Y.):


A.  When one feels burdened or even overburdened by Nisyonos and Tirdos, he must recognize that it is a time to daven to Hashem that he be saved from his tzaros.  The place to do this is by a short Tefillah in Elokai Neztor after Yehiyu LeRatzon.  Hakhel Note:  The Steipeler adds that the same is true for one who feels overcome by his Yetzer Hara, and that the person should sincerely ask Hashem:  HaRachaman Hu Yatzileini MiYetzer Hara”, “Mimidos Ra’os” or “Mimachshavos Ra’os”--everyone according to his situation.  The key, writes the Steipeler, is that one feel humility and submission--as a Mevakeish mammash, and not as one merely reciting words.  Final Note:  The Steipeler also adds that one should daven for other matters of Ruchniyus: that he attain Mesikus HaTorah, that he obtain a Chaver Tov VeHagun, and/or that he be zoche to Siyata DeShemaya.  Any Tefillah made from the depths of the heart, he concludes, will not be returned empty handed.”


B.  The Ikar Shoresh of all Cheit is Ga’avah--for through arrogance one distances himself from the light of Kedusha and the light of the Shechina.  One should learn mussar to thwart Ga’avah.  When one recognizes that all of his wisdom and abilities are Hashem’s, and that they have only been granted to him on a long-term loan, a person will be blessed with a Ruach Taharah and true Emunah.


C.  The Ikar HaDerech to attain Ahavas Hashem is through HaKaras HaTov. 


D.  Yissurim which come upon a person because of his Torah study or because of his involvement in Mitzvos, are not only a Mizbe’ach Kapparah (as are all other Yissurim)--but are also in and of themselves a Zechus Norah VeAyom--and are considered it is as if one offered his soul to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.


E.  Added Hishtadlus will not help at all for one to attain more than was already decreed for him on Rosh Hashana.  This is part of the basic Emunah of HaKol Biyedei Shomyaim.


F.  In Olam Haba the key is not “Mi Sheyada Harbeh in Olam Hazeh” but “Mi Sheyaga in Olam Hazeh”--it is the latter who will attain Shleimus HaTorah in Olam Haba.



Special Note Four:  The following thoughts are short excerpts from the outstanding work The Power of Aleinu by Rabbi Asher Baruch Wegbreit, Shlita.  The Sefer is solely dedicated to a better perception and appreciation of Aleinu LeShabeiach, as we recite it three times a day.  We urge you to obtain and study this wonderful work--which will provide you with depth and understanding of Aleinu--as recited daily for the rest of your long life:


A.  Rav Hai Gaon writes: “There is no other praise for Hashem that can compare to it!”


B.  VeLo Assanu KeMishpachos HaAdama”--He did not position us like the families of the ground.  These words should evoke in us a tremendous sense of gratitude, since it is literally on our account that all of mankind--even the families of the ground--are successful!


C.  VeAnachnu Korim U’Mishtachavim”--we can never compensate Hashem for all of His generosity, all of His giving.  We are inspired into submission--our bowing is honest and sincere.  Moreover, when we bow before Hashem, we acknowledge our status as subjects of the King of kings.  In doing so, we attain our privileged status as members of His circle and His esteemed servants. 


D.  SheHu Noteh Shamayim VeYoseid Aretz”--we are under the constant protection of the One who spreads out the entire heavens and establishes the foundations of earth.  This should serve as a source of tremendous security for us. 



E.  In the first paragraph of Aleinu we recognize that while we physically reside in the same world as all other people, we experience a completely different universe.  We are privy to special knowledge and perceptions.  We continue, however, with the second paragraph--because we want the King to be given the glorification He deserves, and the world to be brought to its ultimate goal and completion.


F. LeHa’avir Gilulim Min Ha’Aretz--this refers to the destruction of the Yetzer Hora-the instigation of evil-- at the time of Milchemes Gog U’Magog.


G.  Lesakein Olam BeMalchus Shakai--The Shechina will not only return to Tzion--it will return to the entire world--which will be entirely filled with Hashem’s Glory!


H.  VeChol Bnei Vassar Yikre’u ViSmecha--All humanity will be able to call out Hashem’s Name--as they will all speak Lashon HaKodesh!


I.  BaYom Ha’Hu--On that day all impurity will be completely removed from the world.  We can barely imagine such an ethereal environment.  The spiritual “air” will be so clean that all mankind will be unified--and true  paradise will finally return to the entire world.  May we see it speedily and in our days--and may our improved Aleinu Tefillah be a great cause for bringing it to close fruition!





A. I thought you might find this interesting, in regards to standing for the elderly: My father went to learn in Telz Yeshiva in Riverdale upon his retirement.  The Rosh Yeshiva instructed the bochrim to stand every time that my father enters or leaves.  My father happens to be a heavy smoker, so he goes out once or twice during seder for a smoke.  Each time this happened the bochrim would stand up.  My father was extremely embarrassed that he was disturbing the learning and went to ask the Rosh HaYeshiva to instruct the boys not to stop their learning.  The Rosh HaYeshiva stated that the Mitzvah is important and it is crucial that the bnei HaYeshiva learn the importance of the Mitzvah and Derec Eretz.  After a great deal of 'negotiations' they finally compromised: the bochrim stand up once at the beginning of seder and once at the end.


B. Thank you for the beautiful showcase today (Special Note Four) of Sefer Chovos HaLevovos.  For a masterful portrait of the person we all seek to become, the “Parush” of Rabbeinu Bechayei, fellow Hakhel readers are referred to Sha’ar HaPrishus, Perek Dalet, of the Sefer




 Special Note One:  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. Check for yourself! 

One of our innovative readers wrote that if we take the second “Vuv” out of Mar Cheshvan and we don’t include the word as part of the gematria; the gematria becomes 604, which is the gematria of “Shas Gemara.”  This teaches us, our reader wrote,” that we must take the increased Torah commitment we made on Simchas Torah as we celebrated the completion of Torah She'Bichsav and also find opportunity to increase our learning of Torah She'Baal Peh!”


From all of the above may we should take the lesson to especially increase our Torah learning this month.



Special Note Two:  There is a Halacha relating to Rosh Chodesh (found in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 188:7), which is not well-known.  That is, if one is reciting Birchas HaMazon on Rosh Chodesh and realized that he forgot to recite Yaaleh V’Yavo after he has already recited the brocha of Bonei Yerushalayim, but prior to reciting the brocha of HaTov V’Hameitiv, he is entitled to (and should) add a new, complete bracha to his Birkas Hamazon, which is: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Asher Nosan Roshei Chodoshim L’Amo Yisroel L’Zikaron--Blessed are You Hashem…Who gave New Moons to His People Israel as a remembrance.”  This incredible Halacha (based upon Chazal--Brachos 49A), allows for a fifth brocha in Birkas HaMazon if it is timed just right.  Of course, it is better not to forget Yaaleh V’Yavo, but Chazal do allow for one to mend the situation in this way.  In fact, there are similar instances where an additional, similar brocha is recited at this point in Birkas HaMazon (between the third and fourth brocha)--for example, if one forgot Retzei on Shabbos, Yaaleh V’Yavo on Yom Tov, etc.  The exact text of these Brachos are found in most siddurim at the end of Birkas HaMazon, but the page is typically skipped over as we move through the Siddur.  For example, see page 196 of the Artscroll English Siddur (Ashkenaz).


From this Halacha relating to Rosh Chodesh, we get a sense of the importance of eating a Seudas Rosh Chodesh--a meal on Rosh Chodesh for which Birkas HaMazon is recited--after all, a new brocha is provided for Rosh Chodesh, just as a new brocha is provided in a similar situation on Shabbos and Yom Tov!  In honor of this Halacha, may we suggest that you partake of a fine Rosh Chodesh meal this morning--but remember Yaaleh V’Yavo!



Special Note Three:  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 in all events 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.  As noted above, it appears that we are living in a time of what the world would call “history in the making,” as the world financial markets shake, and the quiver of terror and 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 Four:  The floodwaters described in this week’s Parsha are sometimes called “Mei Noach--the waters of Noach” (see, for example, Yeshaya 54:9).  In some sense, Noach was held accountable for not bringing his generation with him to Teshuva, and so the punishing waters are titled with his name.


In order to better understand this concept, we provide the following Mashal  adapted from the Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar Ahavas Hashem, Chapter 6), which is brought by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (“Love Your Neighbor”, p. 34):


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


This parable illustrates that 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!



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 a Holocaust of our people(and we must ALWAYS REMEMBER that we are survivors 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.


4.  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


5.  Here 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 Six:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series.  The following Halachos are exerpted from the Sefer Mishna Achrona on the Sefer Mishna Berura by Rabbi Dovid Lichtenstein, Shlita:


A.  The Mishna Berura writes that one should be careful not to travel too closely to Shabbos.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 249, seif katan 3) actually adds that satan is c'v eikatreig on Erev Shabbos.


B.  It is an issue as to whether a Siyum Mesechta is considered to be a Seudah which should be made on Erev Shabbos. The Bi'ur Halacha (ibid. d'h Mipnei) rules that it should be treated as  a Seudah whose zemana ison erev Shabbos--as a Pidyon HaBen.


C.  Because it is rosh Chodesh today, many have the custom of not cutting teir hair, beard or nails despite the fact that it is Erev Shabbos. If one does not havea minhag or is unsure about it-one should consult with his Rav.


D. The Shulchan Aruch itself writes VeYismach BeVias Shabbos KeYotzeh Likras HaMelech U'KeYotzei Likras Chosson VeKallah--let us truly appreciate the happiness anew--each and every Shabbos!



Special Note Seven:  As a zechus for a Refuah Sheleima for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, Yosef Shalom ben Chaya Musha, and as a zechus for his continued good health, we present below a sampling of Shailos asked of him relating to Tefillah together with his Teshuvos, as presented in the Sefer Peninei Tefillah by Rav Benzion HaKohen Kook, Shlita.  In order to review the hundreds of Shailos and Inyanim presented in this wonderful Sefer (in Hebrew), we refer you to your local seforim store for purchase:


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


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


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


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


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


A.  Yes, within the bracha.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note One:  A reader pointed out that in addition to the two Pesukim from Hallel that we recite in Yehi Chevod of Shacharis every day--there is also the last Pasuk that we recite in Ashrei which comes from Hallel.  Accordingly, he writes, we are connected to Hallel three times a day--each and every day!



Special Note Two:  From a reader: “Perhaps you could share the great site - http://koshershaver.com/ In addition to providing valuable information, they show clearly how to remove the Lift & Cut system from Norelcos as well as providing a free service to do so.” 



Special Note Three:  On the importance of standing up before the elderly, we received the following important comments from readers:


a. “Many times one sees people standing up for the bride and groom (I chose this language on purpose) when they walk down the aisle even though they are not yet a chosson or a kallah.  Yet, when grandparents walk down, no one stands.  It should be the reverse.  There is no need to stand for a bride and groom until they become a kallah and chosson which is after the chupah.  But one is obligated to stand for people who are 70 or older!”


b.  “Can a saivah be mochel?  If so, can’t we assume that most people would be mochel the standing-up, and in today’s day and age PREFER NOT to be stood-up for and be singled out and get attention and be embarrassed  for being old?”  Hakhel response:  One may consult with his Rav on this issue.  However, we believe that in many instances older people do appreciate the Kavod afforded to them.  In fact, one reader advised us that he did not stand when an elderly person entered Shul, at which time the elderly person approached him and asked him whether he knew that there was a Mitzvah to stand up for the elderly!



Special Note Four:  Over the course of Elul and Tishrei, many may have studied the classic Mussur Works, Sha’arei Teshuva and Mesilas Yesharim.  There is another, perhaps slightly less studied work, which would be an outstanding project for one to undertake in the coming year as part of his/her Teshuva Bechol Yom Program.  To those who find the Hebrew (even with Nekudos) to be difficult, there are wonderful Hebrew explanations such as the Peirush Lev Tov.  There is also a beautiful translation published by Feldheim Publishers entitled Duties of the Heart which is even available in a two volume, hard cover, pocket version.  We provide immediately below a significant excerpt from the translator’s (Rabbi Daniel Haberman) meaningful Forward to the Sefer and its translation, which will hopefully instill in each and every one of us a feeling as to the importance of the need to dedicate time to study Chovos HeLevavos--Duties of the Heart.  If the sefer is already on your shelf, please remove it.  If not, please remove it from the shelf at the Seforim store!


This is our excerpt:  


“Rabbenu Bachya ibn Paqudas Duties of the Heart is a powerful work that can help you attain a more uplifted state of mind than the one you were in before the reading.  It is a book about inwardness and about one’s conception of Hashem.  It is about reflection and gratitude, trust and sincerity, discipline and love. It is a book about the inner life. Rabbenu Bachya wrote this book in the last third of the eleventh century.  We do not know much about him in the way of biographical details - we know that he lived in Spain and served as a dayyan; yet after reading his book, in which he addresses the reader most warmly, one cannot help but count him as a close friend and mentor.  He wrote it in such a way as to be useful for both the advanced student, such as himself, as well as the novice.  As he writes in his Introduction:  ‘I decided to write [the Duties of the Heart) down in a book ... so that I might expect of myself always to know them, and bring myself to perform them; a book that would ... spur on the observant and stir up the indifferent; bolster the beginner, and show the way to those who are perplexed .... I wrote it to enlighten myself, as well as to stimulate the simple and the negligent among the people of our faith.’  Duties of the. Heart did become a favorite - among simple people and luminaries alike:  R. Yosef Karos maggid (mentor-angel) instructed him to read daily from Duties of the Heart in order to subdue the Yetzer Hora and overcome its power!’ The Arizal, R. Isaac Luria, required of his disciples to study this Sefer on a daily basis in order to awaken the hearts to Hashem most awesome.  According to the Siddur HaGra Ishei Yisroel, the Gra was ‘fond of Menoras HaMaor and the Duties of the Heart’.  R. Pinchas of Korets ‘learned the Duties of the Heart a thousand times and only then attained the level that he reached.’!  The grandson of the Chasam Sofer relates that ‘for about a quarter of an hour before each Shiur he would study with the students a passage from the Duties of the Heart in order to fire their hearts with awe of Hashem .... Almost all of his ethical teachings and practices were from the words of this holy book.  It was his wish that his students study it in their youth so as to establish for themselves one [clear] derech (way) in the service of Hashem.’ The Chida, in his Sefer Shem Gedolim, writes of Rabbenu Bachya and his Duties of the Heart: ‘Whoever reads in his book and Introduction will note the force of his holiness and that his words live and endure and serve as great lights.’  Yerucham Yehudah Leib Perelmann, author of Or Gadol and known as the Gadol from Minsk , said as follows: ‘Chazal have said: “If a man sees that suffering comes upon him, he should examine his conduct” (Berachos 5A). Now, there can be no such examination more thorough than through the study of this book [Duties of the Heart], which analyzes in fine detail human drives and actions?’ And concerning one who has never read Duties of the Heart, R. Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, the Steipler Rav, once wrote: ‘Whoever has not seen the lights of the holy words of the Duties of the Heart will be missing very much, he will be wanting inside, in the purity of all that is holy.’


“If, in reading Rabbenu Bachya, you become aware of the distance between where you are and the high spiritual levels he discusses, do not be discouraged.  On the contrary, this new awareness is very positive and an authentic religious feeling, and it may be an important beginning for you. And if a voice within you should suggest that you are incapable now of attaining these levels, Rabbenu Bachya’s response is that there is still value in the reading and much you can do: “What he cannot realize in deed he should master in knowledge, express longing for in his speech, and yearn for in his heart (Duties of the Heart 8:2).”  Hakhel Note:  Bli neder--let us get started!



Special Note One:  The following brief notes are from Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 95, and the Mishna Berura there (Dirshu Edition):


A.  We put our feet together during Shemone Esrei in order to be comparable to Malochim of whom the Pasuk states VeRagleihem Regel Yeshara--[which means that] Malochim appear to have one leg.  The Mishna Berura adds that it is insufficient to keep one’s feet together to be similar to Malochim--rather, because we are speaking with the Shechina, we must also remove all of our bodily thoughts from our hearts--just as if we were Malochim.


B. The Darchei Moshe writes that the reason we take three steps forward to “approach” Hashem in Tefillah is because there are three times Vayigash is mentioned in Tanach which relate to Tefillah--Vayigash Avrohom, Vayigash Yehuda, and Vayigash Eliyahu.  Accordingly, we may suggest that we are bringing with us the hallowed approaches of Avrohom Avinu, Yehuda and Eliyahu with us into our Tefillos. 


C.  If a person in back of you has already begun Shemone Esrei, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that one should start Shemone Esrei immediately without taking steps backwards or forwards, so that one does not move around in front of the other person while he is davening.


D.  The Mishna Berura brings that the Maharil would rise for Shemone Esrei in Shacharis when the Shaliach Tzibbur began Tehillos L’Keil Elyon. 


E.  The Bach writes that before beginning Shemone Esrei, one should look towards the Heavens through the windows in Shul (or in the home) in order to humble himself/herself.


F.  The reason that we sway while davening is to fulfill the Pasuk Kol Atzmosai Tomarna, Hashem Mi Chamocha.  However, if it will disturb one’s Kavannah, or perhaps even the Kavannah of another, it is better not to sway.  Accordingly, if one has an issue in this regard, he should consult with his Rav or Posek.



Special Note Two:  The following points and pointers are excerpted from the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva, in which Rabbeinu Yonah provides so many essential life teachings:


A.  If a person sees that r’l a tza’ara is near, he should place Yeshuas Hashem in his heart and believe in it, as Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (85:10) Ach Karov L’Yereiav Yisho. 


B.  It is not enough to hand a poor person money with his hand--one must also instill in his soul the Middah of Nedivus--of wanting to give.


C.  One who does not give charity when he can is considered to be a thief--stealing the legitimate gift due to another.


D.  Lashon Hara is weighted against several chayavei misos.  Hakhel Note:  As the Chofetz Chaim points out, the act of murder kills one person, while the act of Lashon Hara can kill three--which is evidenced with the Ma’aseh of Nov Ir HaKohanim in which the speaker (Doeig), the recipient (Shaul HaMelech), and the one spoken about (Achimelech and the people of Nov) were all killed.


E.  The sin of embarrassing another person is so great because shame could be more bitter than death.  One who is Motzi Sheim Rah against a person or a family can effect a permanent p’gam upon him or them, and so the speaker can never attain a Kapparah.  Moreover, one who shames another person in public is among the people who go to Gehenoim and do not leave.


F.  If one is unsure whether the road or path he is on has unclean matter, he should not mention Hashem’s name, nor speak Divrei Torah.


G.  The reason that Hashem “gives wisdom to the wise” is because they honor the Torah and study it with a spirit of kedusha. 


H.  It is forbidden to join together with the person who is a Rasha not only in worldly matters--but even for the purpose of a Mitzvah.


I.  A person is obligated to think about ways in which he could provide good Eitzos to his friend--and this is one of the Ikarei Darchei Gemilas Chassodim.


J.  One who states that the scholars become wise for themselves are deniers of the Torah’s very words Venasasi LeChol HaMakom Ba’Avuram--I will keep the place alive because of them. 


K.  Although one is permitted to show respect to a powerful person even if he is wicked, one should not praise them or speak well about them to others.


L.  The Sha’arei Teshuva concludes with the words Pishaeinu Atta Sichapreim--even our rebellious sins You will purify.  As we will soon take leave of Tishrei, let us reinforce our great and important goal of Teshuva Bechol Yom!



Special Note Three:  Chazal (Brachos 53B) teach that Bais Hillel did not require someone who forgot to recite Birkas HaMazon in his original place to return to that place, and he is Yotzei BeDieved by reciting Birkas HaMazon in the place that he remembers.  As Bais Hillel explain:  “If one ate at the top of a tower, and remembered at the bottom of the tower--should he really have to climb back up to the top?!”  Bais Shammai responded:  “If someone forgot his wallet at the top of the tower, wouldn’t he run back up to get it?!”

Hakhel Note:  Although we do not perform Mitzvos for the sake of reward, we should always remember that Hashem gave us this world, at least in part, for us to study and learn from and to draw the proper analogies and the proper lessons.  When we so something for what is an ostensibly a physical purpose, let us consider what analogy we can draw to Ruchniyus Olam Haba.  As we begin the colder and darker winter months, we can, for instance, immediately realize that this period is short and fleeting--even during the Winter we have the pristine light of Chanukah--and that all of this will lead to the brightness and sun of the Spring--Purim and Pesach which will live on for eternity!



IN RESPONSE TO READER INQUIRY:  We are advised from a highly reliable source that the only shaver HaRav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, specifically continuously permits is the Norelco lift and cut without the lifters.  Other shavers have come and gone which may have been “kosher”, but this shaver has remained a constant.




Special Note One:  From a caring reader regarding the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi Program:  “I wish to add that more information, calendars, etc. relating to Kitzur Yomi can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.kitzuryomi.org/  In addition, as part of the Program, the laws of every Yom Tov are studied at the time of the Yom Tov, so you are better in touch with exactly what to do at the time.  There are also editions of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch which have the Piskei Mishna Berura or the Divrei Mishna Berura footnoted to them, so that one may learn if and when the Mishna Berura has a different opinion or P’sak.  Also, there is a phone Shiur available--to listen to the daily shiur given by Rabbi Yonoson Moller, Shlita on the Kol Halashon network, dial 718-906-6413 and follow the prompts.  Torah is at our finger tips--we just have to put it into our heads!”  Hakhel Note: and our hearts!



Special Note Two:  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. 


Hakhel Note:  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah points out that the Shevach of Hashem as a “Morid HaGashem” includes three distinct praises: (i) that Hashem causes every single drop to fall; (iii) that each drop has a specific place where it is to fall; and (iii) that each drop has a purpose--for reward or for punishment (this means, of course, that each drop has a specific time for falling as well).  Indeed, the Medrash (Devarim Rabbah 7:6) brings that each drop has Malochim specifically associated with it



Special Note Three:  Some additional point and pointers on the post Yomim Noraim/Yom Tov Period:


A.  On Yom Kippur we recited as the Ikar Vidui “Aval Anachnu Va’Avoseinu Chatanu.”  In stark contrast to this, the Mishna in Sukkah (5:4) relates that during the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah, the people in the courtyard who were leaving the Eastern Gate turned to the west, faced the Heichal and exclaimed:  “Our fathers who were in this place turned their back to the Heichal, instead facing to the east and bowing to the sun--but our eyes are towards Hashem!”  The great transition from Yom Kippur to Sukkos results in our abandoning the previously ill-chosen ways which had been etched in stone--even to the extent of their origin from our fathers and their fathers.  To cleanse ourselves--and aid our parents (and their parents) with any previous malfeasance--let us take a good look at an old custom, an ‘established family practice’ and instead turn towards the Heichal-and proclaim we have chosen to abandon that--and that we are now facing towards Hashem!  We have learned the lesson, we have made the transition--from Yom Kippur…to Sukkos!


B.   Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (29:22):  U’Baal Chaima Rav Posha--a man of anger abounds in transgression.  Succinctly stated, if we can avoid anger, we are avoiding an abundance of sin.  In order for us to demonstrate our real dedication and desire to be sinful no longer--let us undertake a special program--to avoid the Rav Posha of anger!


C.  After seeing his Chassidim in a down mood on Motzaei Sukkos as they were about to daven Ma’ariv, it is reported that a Rebbe gave them wonderful Chizuk by exclaiming “My brothers please remember that it is the very same Hashem who is the Atta Vechartanu and the Atta Chonantanu.  Hashem demonstrates to us His midda of Atta Vechartanu with the special feeling that we experience on Yom Tov…and shows us His midda of Atta Chonantanu--by giving us the wisdom, insight and understanding to get through and even succeed during all of the weekdays of the year!


D.  As Chag Simchaseinu has just passed, we should study how we can bring Simcha with us through the rest of the year.  The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) writes as follows:  Simcha Hu Ikar Gadol B’Avoda--Simcha is an essential part of our Avodas Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 100:2) Ivdu Es Hashem BeSimcha Ba’u Lefanava BeRinana--serve Hashem with joy, come before Him with joyous song!  The Mesilas Yesharim then explains (from the Medrash) that when one rises to daven he should feel elation in his heart that he has the ability to pray before One to Whom there is no comparison.  In fact, the Mesilas Yesharim writes that this is THE SIMCHA AMITIS--the true Simcha--that a person rejoices over the fact that has merited serving the Master of the Universe, learn His Torah and perform His Mitzvos--all of which provides a person with the true and absolute fulfillment of his potential and everlasting eternity! 



Special Note Four:  A Mitzvah which may be easy to perform, but may not be performed properly, is the Mitzvah of standing up for a 'zaken or 'zekeina'--a man or woman who is over 70 (according to some opinons 60)--even if he or she may be otherwise unlearned (unless they are wicked). One of the Al Chaits we mentioned on Yom Kippur was "For the sins which we are required to bring a Korban Olah for."  We are required to bring a Korban Olah for failing to perform a Mitzvas Aseh when the opportunity arises--and standing before an elderly person is just such a Mitzvas Aseh! (Source: Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah on the Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei).  Standing before a zaken means rising to full height when they are within four amos of you.  Additionally, if one is unsure as to the person's age, one should stand--because of the Halachic principle of "Sofek D'Oraysa LeChumra"--when one is unsure about something  relating to a Mitzvah in the Torah he must be stringent about it--and, accordingly, one should stand -- for even if you later learn that the person was 69, you have taken the proper action by rising!  Moreover, the Sefer Pele Yoetz writes that if one fulfills this 'simple' Mitzvah and stands before the elderly, the Torah advises us that he will be zoche to Yiras Shomayim--for the Pasuk instructing us in this Mitzva specifically reads:"Mipnei Saiva Takum...Veyaraisa Mai'Elokecha (Vayikra 19:32)--rise before the elderly person...and [the result will be that you will fear Hashem!  This 'shortcut' to Yiras Shomayim would appear not only to be an incredible bracha (remember the penultimate Pasuk of Koheles, in which Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us that Sof Dovor--in the final analysis--what really matters are two things --Yiras Hashem and observance of the Mitvos), but would also seem to be  a Middah KeNeged Middah-if you show the proper respect of whom I tell you to respect, I will help you to take it to the next step, so that you have proper fear of Heaven as well.  Let us make the Mitzvas Aseh of rising for the elderly a priority this year, so that if next year we must recite the Al Chait for a Korban Olah--we will do our best for it not to include the grand Mitzvah of Mipnei Saiva Takum!



MORE ABOUT SHAVERS!  By clicking here we provide a notification that was signed on 24 Elul by the four Roshei Yeshivos of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, and posted in the Yeshiva there. Let the buyer beware!


Special Note One:  Another thought on L’Sheim Shomayim--quoted in the name of HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl:  “It is worth it to come back to this world from Olam Haba to peel potatoes L’Sheim Shomayim!”



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


1. Rabbi Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, gives a wonderful explanation as to why there are three Hadassim (Hadassim being symbolic of the eyes).  One Hadas teaches us of the ‘Tov Ayin’--the good eye that we should have towards others, the second Hadas represents the ‘Ayin Ra’ah’--the bad eye that we must avoid in all circumstances.  The third Hadas reminds us of Hashem’s watchful and loving eye over us--every day of the year, and every moment of the day!


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!


3.  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.  Identify and focus on these two special Pesukim!


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.  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.


6.  We are still in the month known as ‘Yerach HaEisanim’--the Month of the Strong, because of all of the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim that are performed in this month, and because of the Zechus of our Avos (known as the ‘Eisanim’) which we draw from (and learn from!) during this month.  As we are close to the conclusion of the month (believe it or not, Rosh Hashanah is more than three weeks behind us) we must remember that the winners are those who are still there at the end, not having fallen prey to the cunning and guile of the old and wicked Yetzer Hara who strives so hard for us to drop our Kabbalos, to fall into despair, and to get back to the same old habits and practices.  As we finish the month, we must be sure that our brachos are better than they were last year, that we feel elevated by an increased or different learning schedule, and that our mouths are purer because we are dedicated to committing less Ona’as Devarim against our family members and friends.  You can fill in your own marked personal improvement or improvements that need to be maintained in other areas as well.  If we can get to the end of the month in a more elevated plane, we will be able to start the next month a step up--making us a step closer to the heights we can really and truly reach within our own lives.


There is a fascinating almost unexpected conclusion to the classic Sefer Mesilas Yesharim. After the Sefer reviews in sharp detail the various essential Middos we must strive to incorporate into our daily living and life, HaRav Luzatto, z’tl concludes that if we view our thoughts, our words, and our deeds through one simple but brilliant light, we will have gone a long way to accomplishing our personal mission in life.  That special light, that indispensible perspective is—‘Is that which I am thinking or about to say, or that which I am about to do, and the manner in which I am going to do it, going to give Nachas Ruach  to my Father in Heaven?  If we can keep this pleasant and attainable thought in focus throughout the day, we will have elevated ourselves well above the mire of habit and inclination that the Yetzer Hara so constantly and consistently strives to have us caught in.  Remember--you are in the Month of the Strong--be strong and take the strength with you for a very rich, gratifying and successful year!


Hakhel Note:  If we have that notebook or other means of keeping ourselves in line, we can be all the more successful.  Let us remember that we are all teachers--for the good, and for the bad.  If others see us steadfastly adhering to our Kabbalos, it will be much easier for them to follow suit.  Be strong!



Special Note One:   Please do not forget to have Kavannah tonight (and tomorrow night if you are in Chutz LaAretz) --before eating the Kezayis/KeBeitzah plus of Challah, that you are doing so because Ki BaSukkos Hoshavti Es Bnai Yisroel BeHotze'e Osam MaiEretz Mitzrayim --Hashem set us in Ananei Kavod and gave us Sukkas to dwell in as we left Mitzrayim and traveled through the otherwise torturous desert conditions--something that each generation thereafter MUST REMEMBER and  forever be thankful for! 


Special Note Two:  On Chag HaSukkos, we spend much time and effort in order to properly perform the Mitzvos of Sukkah and the Four Minim.  Many people may forget that there is another great Mitzvah on Sukkos, which is the Mitzvah to be b’Simcha--in a state of happiness.  In fact, Sukkos is known as “Z'man Simchasenu--a time of bliss.”

  The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes in the name of the Arizal that one who is truly joyful on Sukkos, and does not allow himself to be pained, is assured that he will have a good year and will merit constant joy.  The Pele Yoetz writes that one can attain this level of joy by reflecting upon how fortunate he is to be so different from all other creations in the universe, by having the opportunity to be close to Hashem through the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos.


The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Lulav ( 8:15 ), explains that the euphoria we should experience on Sukkos is an inner joy which is rooted in the depths of the heart:


“The joy that a person should experience in doing a Mitzvah and in his love of Hashem who so commanded is a great Avodah; and one who does not allow himself to feel this joy [does not follow the Torah’s directive] to be joyful and good of heart…and the only true greatness and honor is to rejoice before Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech did in dancing before the Aron HaKodesh…”


The Simcha we experience on Sukkos is an anomaly to the rest of the world, which equates joy with fun.  Our happiness is “Yismechu B’Malchusecha”--the joy of our soul in its closeness to Hashem and in our ruchniyus--tangibly experiencing a sublime, inspiring, spiritual purpose in life!



Special Note Three:  We present below several important points which relate to properly celebrating the Chag:


1.  Since Chag HaSuccos is such a foundation of our Emunah--may we suggest that one make a special effort to have Kavannah when reciting Amen--in fact, their Gematriaos--91-- are the same-- very far from 'coincidence'!


2.  The Elef HaMogen (in the Sefer Mateh Ephraim (626:18) writes that **every minute** that one spends in the Sukkah is a separate Mitzvas Asei M’Deoraisa.  (See also Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda for a moving discussion as to how much one should treasure his moments in the Sukkah.)


3.  Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Vayikrah 23:42) teach that one who fulfills the Mitzvah of Sukkah in Olam HaZeh will be protected by the Sukkah of Hashem in Olam Haba.  Even in this world, the Shem M’Shmuel writes in the name of his father, the Avnei Nezer, that because of the protective power of the Sukkah, one need not recite the entire Krias Shema Al HaMitah when sleeping in the Sukkah, but only the first Parsha of Shema and HaMapil.  [This ruling of the Avnei Nezer is not brought in Shulchan Aruch, but gives us a better appreciation of what we may not necessarily see with our eyes in the Sukkah.]


4.  A boy above the age of five or six is required to eat all those foods in the Sukkah that his father would be required to eat in the Sukkah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 640:2).


5.  When one enters the Sukkah to eat a Seudah, he should invite the Ushpizin verbally--for if he does not invite them, they do not come.  The Ushpizin will also not come if money is not set aside for the poor for Sukkos (Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah 11:13 ; see also the Shelah HaKadosh, Mesechtas Sukkah).  As previously noted,  we remind everyone that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch writes that it is a special Mitzvah to give Tzedaka on Erev Sukkos.


6  The Mishna Berura writes that because of the great Kedusha of the Sukkah, one must be especially careful not to engage in forbidden talk, and try not to engage in mundane chatter (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 639, Mishna Berura, Seif Katan 2).  One should look around the Sukkah from time to time and remind himself that he is engulfed in a Mitzvah like no other time during the year!


7. It is fascinating to note that the Ikar Ma'asim which require Sukkah--more than davening and learning (!)  are eating and sleeping--perhaps what one would consider the most physically required and non-spiritual, the least elevated, of our daily activities.  Yet, this is where the lessons of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are housed--in our activities as human beings for the rest of the Year--and this is the guidance--and the Shemira--that the proper performance of the Mitzvah of Sukkah will provide for us over the coming months 


8.  One should not assume that a Sukkah put up in a restaurant, amusement park or the like is automatically kasher because 'it must be under someone's supervision'.  One should try to make his own determination that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah in the structure in front of him!


9.  The four letters comprising the Hebrew word Lulav also comprise the first letters of words we will recite every day of Sukkos--VeTaher Libainu LeAvdecha BeEmes--purify our heart to serve You in truth (Luach Dovor BeIto). Hakhel Note: HaRav Dessler, Z'tl, points out that Lulav is a combination of the words Lo Lev--a demonstration that one is dedicating his heart to the Ribbono Shel Olam--based upon the Pasuk (Mishlei 23:26) Tenah Bni Libcha li!  Let's take the clear message and work on purifying our hearts in our very own personal way this Sukkos!


10.  The spine of the Lulav (the shedra), and not the Lulav itself, must be at least sixteen inches, and must be one tefach (four inches) more than the Hadassim and Aravos when tied together (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 650:2).  Many people think that only the Lulav need be taller, but actually it is the spine of the Lulav that must extend so that the Hadassim and Aravos must stop four inches BELOW the highest point of the shedra--which is the point at which the centermost branch last splits. 


11. The Siddur HaGra notes that the 4 Minim are k'neged a letter of the 4-letter Ineffable Name of Hashem.  The last Heh is represented by the Esrog. Accordingly, we should be careful to keep the Esrog touching the Minim in the other hand--so that the letters stay complete.  It is brought from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z'tl, al pi sod, that the  Esrog should be touching at the bottom of the Lulav--where the bottom of the Hadassim and Aravos are--and not near the middle of the Haddasim and Aravos. 


12.  How should a lefty hold the 4 Minim?  This is an apparent Machlokes between the Mechaber and the Rema--and it is accordingly suggested that whatever opinion you initially follow--you also hold them the other way as well (this is what the Steipeler, Z'tl did, as reported in the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (VI: p.423). Lefty's get a second opportunity!



Special Note Four:   We present below several Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma'aseh Rav:


1 .  Question:  One is permitted to place a sheet within 4-tefachim of his Sechach to decorate the Sukkah and it does not invalidate his Sechach.  This being the case, one can simply spread a sheet directly under his Sechach--and he will be able to eat in the Sukkah-even when it is raining--why don't we all do so?! [See Mishnah Berurah to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, 629, seif katan 58].


     Answer:  The Torah did not obligate us to do so.


2.  Question:  Is it better to stay in the Sukkah longer and not be one of the first 10 in Shul for Minyan, or should one leave the Sukkah in order to be one of the first 10?


Answer: There are two possible responses:  The rule of Taishvu Ke'Ain Taduru which would seem to dictate that it is better to be one of the first 10--as is the case the rest of the year and as brought in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 90:14. The other possibility is DeOvid K'Mar Ovid, DeOvid KeMar Ovid--either way, it is a winning situation!


3.  Question:  Is it permissible to give a Shiur on Sukkos if you know people will fall asleep at the Shiur?


    Answer:  One can give the Shiur--but must first warn the people that it is forbidden to sleep outside of the Sukkah!


4. Question:  One wants to fulfill the mitzvah of Yeshivas Sukkah but does not have anything to make a bracha of Laishaiv BaSukkah on. Is it better for him to enter and stay in the Sukkah without making a bracha--or not to enter for he will not be able to make the bracha?


    Answer:  One should enter the Sukkah even though he cannot make a bracha over the Mitzvah at that time.


5.  Question:  One started a meal in the Sukkah, and it began to rain so he put on the shloch.  When the rain stops, and he takes off the shloch, should he make a new bracha of Laishaiv BaSukkah?


   Answer:  Yes.


6.  Question:  On Hoshanah Rabba,  need one be careful not to step on the broken off Aravos leaves?


   Answer:  One should be careful.



Special Note Five:   As in previous years, we review with you:


.                                         CHOL HAMOED HIGHLIGHTS


Chol HaMoed are days designated--set aside--for holiness.  We can therefore understand why someone who disgraces these days “has no share” in the World to Come (Avos 3:15 ).  According to the Bartenura (ibid.), disgracing the Moados means doing unnecessary work on them, and eating and drinking in the same manner as one would on a regular weekday.


The following highlights are from a Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll 2005), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.


1.                  The Avnei Nezer teaches (based upon the Zohar) that the Kedusha of Chol HaMoed may be likened to the light of the Moon--reflecting the Kedusha of Yom Tov itself.  Chol HaMoed is indeed enveloped by the Kedusha of the First Days and the Last Days of Yom Tov.


2.                  One should wear nicer clothes on Chol HaMoed than on a regular weekday.  The mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov applies to Chol HaMoed as well.


3.                  Rabbi Zucker stated that he felt that just as Kedushas Shabbos was the nisayon (the test) of 75 to 100 years ago, Kedushas Chol HaMoed is the nisayon of Galus Jewry today.


4.                  The laws of working on Chol HaMoed for a salaried employee depend upon whether the employee: (a) has vacation coming to him; (b) has no vacation coming to him, but can take time off without pay; (c) asking for time off will cause him to lose his job; or (d) asking for time off will not cause him to lose his job, but will have undesired effects.  Our notes here are intended to highlight these distinctions, but not provide the halachic parameters, which are detailed and often require consultation with a Rav.  For further information, you may study the Sefer itself, or obtain a copy of the Shiur on cassette tape or CD by calling (718) 252-5274.


5.                  Self-employed individuals and employers must consult with their Rav as to how/when to remain open on Chol HaMoed.  One should not rely on “everybody does it” or “ignorance is bliss”--remember, we are talking about the World to Come, and that is true bliss--and infinity.  The story is told of a factory owner who refused, despite the Chofetz Chaim’s pleadings, to close his factory on Shabbos--he told the Chofetz Chaim, “Rebbe, you don’t make money from a posuk in the Torah.”  When the Bolsheviks confiscated all of his property a few years later, he wrote a letter of contrition and apology to the Chofetz Chaim.


6.                  Unskilled work is permitted for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Therefore, if necessary, one may sew a button on in an unskilled manner.


7.                  A non-Jew cannot do work for you that you yourself cannot perform.  For example, your lawn cannot be mowed or landscaped--and your gardener must be sent away if he comes to perform work for you.


8.                  Skilled work is generally prohibited--even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Once again, anything prohibited for a Jew to do is prohibited for a non-Jew to do for you.  There are certain exceptions in which skilled labor is permitted, which relate to “Tzorchei HaGuf,” such as a serious roof leak or a necessary oven or air conditioner repair. With respect to car repairs, it would depend on the type of repair necessary, the need for the repair, and other factors, and a Rav must be consulted.


9.                  Laundering clothing can only be done for young children who have soiled their clothing and have nothing else to wear.  You cannot add other clothing into the washing machine once their clothes are being washed.  Once again, a non-Jewish housekeeper cannot do for you what you yourself cannot do.  Spot cleaning, if necessary, is permitted.  Drying clothing is permitted.


10.              Going shopping is only permissible (even if you otherwise enjoy shopping) if needed for Chol HaMoed or the Last Days of Yom Tov, or if it would constitute a “davar ha’avad” (See paragraph 13 below).  One cannot “trick” the Halacha (and yourself) by “wearing it on Chol HaMoed too.  Similarly, one should not push off buying a pair of shoes to Chol HaMoed if he can do so before Yom Tov (unless he simply ran out of time).  Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL once told a Yeshiva bochur to come back to Yeshiva a day later in order to go shopping for clothing after Yom Tov, rather than shop on Chol HaMoed.


11.              One cannot schedule a “routine” medical or dental checkup or exam for Chol HaMoed.


12.              One cannot put off to Chol HaMoed filling up the car with gas, going to the bank, etc., when he has time or an opportunity to do so before Chol HaMoed.


13.              In specific “davar ha’avad” situations where an actual loss will occur, if work (even if skilled) is not performed on Chol HaMoed, it may very well be permissible, and your Rav should be consulted.


14.              Cutting nails/manicure is permitted for Sefardim (if needed), and prohibited to Ashkenazim (unless needed, and one had previously cut nails on Erev Yom Tov as well).


15.              Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL ruled that setting/cutting a sheitel is considered skilled work and therefore is prohibited even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.


16.              Standard writing (not calligraphy) is considered unskilled work and is permitted for the sake of the Moed.  One can type, send e-mails, e-faxes and text messages, but not print them out (unless permitted as a “davar ha’avad”).  Similarly, one can utilize a digital camera as long as the pictures are not printed out, and a standard camera, as long as the pictures are not developed.


The above, obviously, only briefly highlights some common Halachos.  In fact, Hilchos Chol HaMoed encompasses 20 chapters in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 530-549).  We additionally refer you to Rabbi Zucker’s wonderful sefer.  You may want to ask your Rav to give a Shiur this Yom Tov on the Halachos and Hashkafos of Chol HaMoed for everyone’s benefit.  Remember, with any question, or difficult or special situation, please consult your Rav--and have Simchas HaMoed.


                                                   CHAG SAMEACH!



Special Note One:  The following incredible selections from Vidui are excerpted directly from the Artscroll Yom Kippur Machzor (more detailed notes in back of the Machzor):


Al Cheit Shechatanu Lifanecha BeOnes U’VeRatzon--”We have said we had no choice but to sin; and we sinned because we could not resist temptation.”


Al Cheit Shechatanu Lifanecha BeImutz HaLev--”We have refused to admit that we might be wrong.”


Al Cheit Shechatanu Lifanecha BiVli Da’as--”We have sinned through ignorance.  We have failed to think carefully, or to learn enough.  Failure to study the Torah leads inevitably to sin, and lack of insight or information causes people to misjudge situations.  Self imposed ignorance is no excuse.” 


Hakhel Note:  The above are just the initial three of the Machzor’s remarkably concise and moving Vidui, rooted in Rav Dessler’s explanations and brought so well to each individual.  Once again, before putting away the Machzor, try to apply each one of the practical explanations to you in your life!



Special Note Two:  We continue with points and pointers relating to the elevated period we are now celebrating:


1.  With so much to do in such a short time, we must be especially careful to make sure that we don’t lose ourselves over the pressures of all that needs to be accomplished, and in the increased Holiday expenses.  However, we must remember that we recently sincerely asked for forgiveness for anger, for causing anguish to other people, for jealousy, and for a host of other Aveiros relating to our mental mind set and our speech.  Rather than falling prey to the Yetzer Hara, we should consider how every little step, how every little act--cleaning this or that, buying this or that, are all precious and irreplaceable Mitzvos which will stay with us forever and ever.  Even on Yom Tov itself, washing the dishes, removing the garbage, cleaning away a spill, and always keeping the Sukkah clean, is a part and parcel of Kavod Yom Tov!  Let us celebrate Yom Tov proud of our conduct and the path that we took to get there.  After all, the Torah teaches “Chag HaSukkos Ta’aseh Lecha--make for yourself a Chag HaSukkos.”  We ourselves are enjoined to the make the Chag into what it is and what it can be!  Additional Note:  There is another fascinating point about the continuum that we are passing through from Yom Kippur until Sukkos.  On Yom Kippur, we try as best as we can to serve Hashem as Malachim, as angels--no eating, or drinking, the Kittel and dress in white, reciting Boruch Sheim Kevod aloud...  The Sefer Kav HaYashar points out that the Gematria of Sukkah (91) is actually equal to that of Malach.  We were like a Malach just a few days ago, and we will be like a Malach again in a few days from now.  We dare not lose this very special semblance over the next couple of days, as we maintain our more enthused and elevated level of Mitzvah performance and conduct--as we had hoped and strove for on Yom Kippur.


2.  On Yom Tov, we will be reciting the Bracha of Shehechiyanu both in the Sukkah and over the Arba Minim.  It is important to once again review the words of the Sefer Ma’aseh Nisim (Rebbi Yaakov MiLisa, also known as the Nesivos), who explains the difference between the three words Shehechiyanu, Kiyemanu, and Higiyanu.  The word “Shehechiyanu” refers to the physical life Hashem is granting us in spite of the difficulties and dangers of Galus.  The word “Kiyemanu” refers to our eternity--Hashem has given us the opportunity of eternal existence through the performance of Mitzvos in this world.  The word “Higiyanu” expresses our acute awareness that we are only here at the moment of the Bracha because of the true Chesed of Hashem.  It is no small wonder then, that we are urged to recite this very meaningful Bracha with great Simcha and thanks to Hashem for bringing us to this moment so special in so many ways!


3. The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 625, seif katan 1) reminds us that every time we dwell in the Sukkah we should remind ourselves that we are doing so both “Zeicher LeYetzias Mitzrayim and Zecher LeAnanei Hakavod.”  Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, incredibly points out that the Mishna Berura writes that if one does not have these Kavannos when entering the Sukkah, he is only Yotzei the Mitzvah of Sukkah--BeDieved!!  Accordingly, one is well advised to have a reminder upon entering the Sukkah of the proper Kavannos, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah LeChatchila--in the first instance.  We provide by clicking here a Kavannah card for the first night (or for the first two nights) of Sukkos sent to us by a reader based on a Shiur given by Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld, Shlita, of Cleveland.  We note that items 2, 3, and 5 on the card apply all seven days of Sukkos! 


4.  We will once again be benefitting from Birchas Kohanim on the days of Yom Tov.  We remind everyone that the Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 128 at the outset of the Bi’ur Halacha) writes that even non-Kohanim (yes, you!) can fulfill the Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa of Birchas Kohanim by having in mind to receive the Bracha from the Kohanim, as Hashem commanded!


5.  Now, we are ready to turn to HaRav Dessler, Z’tl.  HaRav Dessler (Michtav Me’Eliyahu 1:268) explicitly writes that the reason for the close proximity between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is the “Shemira,” or protection, that the Mitzvah of Sukkah provides.  On Yom Kippur the Yetzer Hora is quashed, but is revived so quickly after Yom Kippur that we are required to promptly recite “Selach Lanu Avinu Ki Chatanu” in the Ma’ariv Shemone Esrei just 7 to 8 minutes after we have concluded Ne’ilah.  How can we be protected for the rest of the Year?  It is by surrounding ourselves with the Sukkah and inculcating ourselves with its holiness.  In fact, the Zohar writes that the Sukkah can be compared to the Teivah of Noach, Noach’s Ark, which protected and eternally preserved the remnants of all life on earth.  The Sukkah takes all of our physical and human drives and activities such as eating, drinking, sitting, walking, and sleeping, and houses them in the spiritual well beyond the seven days of Sukkos.  The ephemeral becomes the everlasting.  Complementing the Sukkah is the taking and shaking of the Four Minim, which symbolizes the spiritual control over harmful gashmiyus, such as dangerous winds and dews--also, once again, well beyond Sukkos.


The Sefas Emes finds a clear allusion to this in the Torah’s words that we are to observe Sukkos:  “Shivah Yamim BaShana-- Seven Days of the Year,”-- the Seven Days are sufficient to infuse us with all that we need for the coming year.  It is for this reason that Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkos, is the date when the final “notes” relating to our judgment are delivered.  By then, we have indicated to Hashem whether we have, or have not, availed ourselves of the opportunity to protect the Ruchniyus that we acquired on Yom Kippur and bring it into our homes and our workplaces.


 As we sit in the Sukkah in the upcoming sunny days, we should think about our own personal ways in which we can instill the Sukkah’s Shemira into our homes after the Seven Days have passed.  Will it be by remembering to picture Hashem in front of us when we say the word “Ata” in each one of our Brachos?  Will it be in the manner that we eat--sitting down and eating respectfully?  Will it be with the voice level used in our home?  Will it be by not purchasing the extra luxury or overindulgence because it looks so nice, is so “balabatish,” or tastes so good?  Will it be by the emphasis of mind over matter?  The list goes on…



May we inculcate these thoughts into our being, and may this Sukkos bring with it the protection--and the consequent guidance--to make this year especially great and successful!



Special Note One:  How can we keep the elevated spirit of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah with us every day of the year?  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!



Special Note Two:  There is another way that we can remain tied in some way to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.  As we have noted many times in the past, The Sefer Tomer Devorah by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, teaches us that each and every one of us, at least in some small way should do “Teshuvah BeChol Yom--Teshuvah every day.”  What a wonderful way to remain elevated--staying in touch with Teshuvah daily--coming closer and closer to the Ikar of your Neshama--to the Neshama at its source! 


Hakhel Note One: In Neilah, we placed great emphasis on the 13 Attributes of Hashem's Mercy.  The first Chapter of the Tomer Devorah describes in practical terms how we ourselves--in a very human way can practice these VERY 13 Attributes in our everyday lives. ...We can then be zoche to Hashem's showering His 13 Attributes upon us--Middah K'Neged Middah for our pursuit and following of these attributes in our own lives.  We strongly urge a careful and thoughtful study of the first chapter over Sukkos!


Hakhel Note Two:  One suggestion we have made and many have found useful--is not to put away the Yom Kippur Machzor, or the Viduy Booklet that you have, until after Sukkos, so that you can open it and remind yourself as to where you were and where you want to go this year.  Of course, you can suggest this approach to a family member or friend and you can do this together.  In fact, the Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Igerres HaTeshuva (1:22) writes that it is a “Takanah Gedola”, it is of great assistance, to a person to find a friend or even a Rav or other mentor to discuss more heavenly matters with, and give, take, or exchange advice on maintaining and raising our Ruchniyus now and even throughout the year.


Special Bonus!:  One of our readers supplied us with a detailed Viduy Listing made especially for women, under the auspices of  HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita.  We hope that many women have already received it and used it on Yom Kippur. For those who have not--we provide it by clicking here.    Remember--Teshuva BeChol Yom--so you can recite it today!


Special Note Three:  Sukkos is a Chag which should invigorate us with Emunah.  May we suggest that one purchase, or put aside, a Sefer on Emunah to study over every day of the Yom Tov.   Many Mussar seforim have sections on both Emunah and Bitachon, and many new Sefarim (in different languages) have been published on this topic, as it is obviously an essential Avodah of our time.  Let us imbibe as much Emunah as we can over this especially auspicious time!



Special Note Four:  We provide by clicking here a wonderful reminder sheet that one can keep near his seat in the Sukkah, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah LeChatchila each and every time!



Special Note Five:  Project Inspire’s great project this year for Sukkos is “Kol HaEzra”--inviting an unaffiliated coworker, friend, or neighbor to your Sukkah.  This is the moving Noviminsker Rebbe’s, Shlita, powerful comment:  “By inviting a less affiliated Yid into your Sukkah you not only fulfill the Mitzvos of Hachnosas Orchim and of Hatzolas Nefashos, but you are also directing him Tachas Kanfei HaShechina--the essence of Chag HaSukkos.”  Project Inspire has much wonderful material at www.kiruv.com to help facilitate and enhance your experience.  Hakhel Note:  If one truly appreciates Teshuva, he will most certainly want others to benefit from and enjoy it as well.  Share the Ruchniyus! 


Special Note Six:  FREE N’OI SUKKAH FROM HAKHEL!  We provide by clicking here a treasure-filled message from the Mishna Berurah to post in your Sukkah or to keep close-by.  Special thanks to Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita, who printed beautiful color posters, and allowed us to copy and distribute.

Hakhel Note:  One's  Sukkah Decorations become Muktzah over Yom Tov, unless he makes a t'nai that he intends to get benefit from them (use them, eat them, etc.) over Yom Tov and/or Chol HaMoed.  For the specifics of the appropriate t'nai, please consult with your Rav or Posek



Special Note Seven:  As we have noted, the last Halleluka--the last Kepitel in Tehillim, has 12 phrases--each corresponding to a month of the year.  This month's corresponding phrase is HalleluKah Bedevil V'Chinor--let's get the message!



Special Note Eight: It is said in the name of an Adam Gadol that our Rosh Hashana Tefillos stay with us through the Year with Aleinu Leshabe'ach, and our Yom Kippur Tefillos stay with us with the LeOlam Yehei Adam... Meh Annu, Meh Chayeinu tefillah found in the Karbanos of Schacharis.  It would we be wonderful if we could take our daily Kavannah in these two Tefillos--as  a wonderful and meaningful remembrance of our Yomim Noraim tefillos--with us throughout the year!


Special Note Nine:  Your Kabbalah Notebook--is everything in check?


Special Note Ten:  We have our review of the 19 Brachos of Shemone Esrei and Elokai Netzor available by clicking here.  Perhaps you would like to start your own new 19 week Bracha Kavannah cycle--based upon a review of each bracha for the week.  This week will be the first bracha-- Birkas Avos!  What a Zechus--what an Opportunity --to begin from the beginning!




Special Note One:  Today we conclude with our series on Shemone Esrei--with the very last phrases of Elokai Netzor:


A.  Immediately preceding recitation of Yehiyu L’Ratzon, many have the custom of reciting the Pasuk/ Pesukim which begins with the first letter of their name(s), and ends with the last letter of their name(s).  The Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Shemiras Halashon (II:9) provides a detailed explanation for this custom.


B.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 122, seif katan 8) brings from the Sefer Chayei Adam that there are now other additional personal requests that a person should make daily at this point in the davening--and if one cannot make them well in Lashon HaKodesh, he can make them in another language--as long as they come ‘mikiros libo--from the depths of his heart’!


C.  We then take three steps back in a singular bowed position, and after having taken the three steps back, we turn to our left (bowed) and recite “Oseh Shalom Bimromav”, then turn to our right (bowed) and  recite “Hu Ya’aseh Shalom Aleinu”, and then face ahead (bowed) and recite the words “Ve’Al Kol Yisroel VeImru Amen.”  With these words and this action, we leave the presence of the King in a most respectful manner--and once again noticeably asking for Shalom--as we do at the end of Birkas Kohanim, in the last Bracha of Shemone Esrei, at the  end of  Kaddish, and at the end of Birkas HaMazon.  For additional amazing reasons for taking three steps back, see Bais Yosef to Tur Shulcha Aruch 123, and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 123: Mishna Berura, seif katan 2.


D.  We then conclude with the Yehi Ratzon that the Bais HaMikdash be rebuilt so that our Avodah can be fulfilled in its highest and its most pristine form in the Bais HaMikdash--for we know that “VeArva LaHashem Minchas Yehuda V’Yerushalayim--this will be the most pleasant thing for Hashem and, accordingly, this is our most sought after Avodah!



Special Note Two:  We provide important points and pointers relating to Erev Yom Kippur:


A.  It is a Mitzvas Asei from the Torah to eat today, on Erev Yom Kippur.  Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, points out that since one ordinarily eats during the day, it would not be clear that one is eating L’Sheim Mitzvah--unless he so expresses it before eating; after all--Mitzvos Tserichos Kavaanah--we require Kavanna in order to fulfill the Torah commandments.  Accordingly, in addition to one’s careful brachos today, it would be appropriate for him to state in Lashon HaKodesh or in another language: “I am eating now to fulfill the Mitzvah of eating on Erev Yom Kippur!”


B.  One of course should be focusing in on the specific Kabbalos that he will be making.  Here is an insightful Kabbalah from a reader in Bain Adam LeAtzmo area: “I am bli neder going to think twice (or three times if I find myself lax) before taking out my cell phone to talk in a public area, or in order to text while walking on the street.  As we have mentioned numerous times, in the past a Kabbalah in the advanced technology area would be especially appropriate for us, as many have referred to this as the great Nisayon of our Dor, and the last ‘hurrah’ of the Yetzer Hora.


C.  The Chayei Adam (Chapter 143) presents a tremendous amount of essential ideas, and we once again urge you to review the Chapter today.   Here, we very briefly summarize just a few of the concepts:  (a) The Pasuk states Lifnei Hashem Titharu--before Hashem shall you cleanse yourself.  Accordingly, it is essential that we begin our purification process before Yom Kippur begins --now!  (b) The sin of Lashon Hora is so horrific that it leads to the three cardinal sins of Shefichas Domim, Gilui Arayos and Avodah Zara.  This sorry point we learn from the Nachash who spoke Lashon Hora against Hashem--which led to all 3 of the devastating sins. (c)  One who causes pain or anguish to an Almanah or Yasom is liable to Missah B’Yedei Shomayim.  (d) In accordance with one’s increased Torah study will be his increased service of Hashem.  (e) One Cannot recite Vidui on a Bain Adam LeChaveiro sin unless he first appeases his friend. (f) Based upon Tehillim (51:19), reciting Vidui with proper remorse is as if one brought a Karbon in the Bais HaMikdash.  (g) One way to begin one’s remorse is with the words “Mah Assisi--oh what have I done!” A person must view  himself as a true sinner, and be truly sorry for what he has done for the Vidui to be effective.


 D.  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (6:2) provides the following inescapable conclusion: “Kishem SheHaAdam Chotei Mida’ato U’Veretzono, Kach Hu Oseh Teshuva Mida’ato U’Veretzono--just as one sins by his own knowledge and his own election, so too can he do Teshvua by his own knowledge and his own election.”


E. We must remember to do one final search of our monetary matters before Yom Kippur.  The Mishnah Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 606, Seif Katan 1), writes that improperly holding other people’s money is, rachmana l’tzlan, the mikatreg b’rosh--the lead prosecutor.  The Mishne Berurah adds that one should not rely upon his own decisions in monetary matters with others, “Ki HaYetzer Hora, Yesh Lo Heterim Harbe--for the Yetzer Hora finds many leniencies”!  In monetary matters or issues with others, one should consult his Rav.



Special Note Three: We provide several additional, final notes from the newly published Sefer Kovetz Halachos:  Yomim Noraim  by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, containing the pesokim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita.  The following will also include Erev Shabbos Halachos of this special Shabbos--a Shabbos Shabbon!  After studying these pesokim, one should, of course, in all events consult with his Rav with respect to his own personal situation, circumstances, or Minhagim: 


A.  A minor who eats on Yom Kippur does not make Kiddush, but it would seem that he should make a bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen on grape juice.  Hakhel Note:  In Children in Halacha, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, writes:  “When a child eats on Yom Kippur, Kiddush is not recited prior to eating.  A child should recite Retzeih (for Shabbos) and Ya’aleh V’Yavo (for Yom Kippur), but does not repeat Birkas HaMazon if he forgets either one.”  [The same would appear to be true for a Choleh who must eat on Yom Kippur]. 


B.  If a person arises before Amud HaShachar (which is quite late this year--in New York approximately 5:47 AM, assuming it is 72 minutes before HaNetz HaChama), one should wash his hands again after Amud HaShachar even on Yom Kippur, where there is otherwise an issur of rechitza.


C.  Women who attend Shul should recite Kol Nidrei together with the Shaliach Tzibbur just as men do, but anyone davening at home does not recite Kol Nidrei.


D.  If there is a break in Shul between Mussaf and Mincha, and one takes off his Talis--he involves himself in a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether he should make a new Bracha when putting the Talis back on again.  Accordingly, it is best for one to have in mind when putting on his Talis in the morning that that the bracha is only covering his initial wearing--so that any subsequent levisha will definitely require a new bracha.


E.  It is best to use a Ner SheShovas even though one would make Havdalah on Motza’ei Shabbos in any event.  One does make a Bracha on besomim--because it is also Havdalah for Motza’ei Shabbos.  There is an issue as to whether one makes an Al HaGefen on the Havdalah wine, as he plans to eat a meal immediately after Havdalah.  If one does not intend to drink wine in this Seudah, then he does make an Al HaGefen on the Kos Shel Havdalah before the Seudah. 


Additional Notes on Hilchos Shabbos:


A.  IMPORTANT!  We once again remind all women who are Madlik Neiros and recite a Shehechiyanu then that they do NOT recite a second Shehechiyanu i.e., the Shehechiyanu after Kol Nidrei, which is found in the Machzorim.



B.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, writes that he remembers that in his first year in Kelm the “Kabbolah HaRaishis--the top Kabbala” was Shemiras Shabbos--”For this is the way of the Yetzer Hora to seek large profits, and since the Mitzvah of Shabbos is so great, the Yetzer seeks to up-end you in the proper observance of Shabbos.”  Shabbos Yom Kippur is certainly a day to reflect upon ways in which one can enhance his own Shemiras Shabbos and the Shemiras Shabbos of others.



Special Note Four:  We provide important points and pointers relating to Yom Kippur:


A.  In these turbulent times we are all in need of Yeshuos--and Yeshua is one of the great accomplishments of Yom Kippur.  We provide by clicking here a great opportunity to acquire additional zechusim on Yom Kippur itself.  Please e-mail to others--we are talking about incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when you need them most.


B.  Rav Dessler, Z’tl, writes that in difficult times when one does not know what the day will bring, one should undertake a shortcut to Teshuva which he literally calls “Ezra Rishona (first aid)” in difficult times (Michtav D’Eliyahu I, page 30).  Rav Dessler provides the following four emergency recommendations for Teshuva: Learn Torah – in order to chase away the Yetzer Horah. Learn Mussar – in order to acquire the true view of life. Accustom Yourself to Break Your Desire – (according to Rabbeinu Yonah in the name of the Raavad) this is equivalent to many fasts in one day!  Increase Your Acts of Kindness – both to individuals and to K’lal Yisroel.  This includes practicing Chesed B’Lev – including davening for others, doing a chesed for the z’chus of others, and having tza’ar for the suffering of others.


 C  On Yom Kippur we should constantly remind ourselves that we are immersing ourselves in purity (“Titharu”).  Just as a person who is physically ill may go to the hospital or take medication to get better, Yom Kippur is an ultimate healing process for the ailments of the soul--which need to be cured for a much, much longer time than the body needs to be healed.  What an Opportunity ! What an Occasion!  We should especially express our thanks to Hashem for the unfathomably infinite gift that He has given us!


D  Clearly, Tefillah is a great Avodas HaYom of Yom Kippur.  It is absolutely imperative for us to daven (on Yom Kippur—and everyday) for all our uneducated brethren who know oh so little of Torah and Judaism.  Is it really possible for us not to shed a tear for them this Yom Kippur?!


E.  According to some authorities, Yom Kippur is the Yartzheit of Rebbe Akiva, who gave his life Al Kiddush Hashem in such an awe-inspiring way.  This may be the reason that we enumerate the Asara Harugei Malchus in Musaf on Yom Kippur.  Undoubtedly, we mention them as well so that their merits stand in our stead.  Let us be sure to recite this pizmon with special attention and care. 


F.  In the Musaf Shemone Esrei, we will recite the words “V’ein Anachnu Yecholim La’asos **Chovoseinu** B’vais Bechirasecha--we cannot perform our obligations in the Beis Hamikdash this Yom Kippur because of the foreign hand that has been placed there.”  We must take these words deeply to heart.  It is our “Chov”--our current and existing obligation--to bring Korbonos in the Bais Hamikdash and for the Kohein Gadol to perform the special Avodah on Yom Kippur.  This is not something of the past--nor is it relegated only to the future.  It is something that we must do now, and we are being forced not to do it.  Indeed, the great majority of Masechtes Yoma, the Masechtes of Yom Kippur, discusses the Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash.  We, of course, bow down during the Chazaras HaShatz of Mussaf, just so that we have a touch of the Avodah that we so long for.  It is said of the Chasam Sofer that when he recited the Avodah at Mussaf he would cry so powerfully that the pages of his Machzor would stick together from the saturation of his tears.  Accordingly, although we may be weary at this point of a Yom Kippur service it very much behooves us to put our efforts into recitation of the Avodah with feeling and longing for the great Kapparah and Deveikus that it effected.  Imagine being there as the Kohein Gadol expressed Hashem’s Ineffable Name ten times on Yom Kippur.  We note that, in describing the Kohein Gadol’s mentioning of this Name, the Mishnah states that the Name was Yotzei MePi Kohein Gadol--it came out of the Kohein Gadol’s mouth.  The Tiferes Yisroel on the Mishnah explains that the Kohein Gadol did not even speak--rather, it was the Shechina keviyachol reciting the Name out of the Kohein Gadol’s throat!  Oh--how we must long to be there!


G.  One of the Avodos of the Kohein Gadol was to sprinkle the blood in the Kodesh HaKodoshim and on the Paroches “Achas LeMa’alah V’Sheva L’Matta--once in an upward fashion and seven times in a downward fashion.  Some explain that the one upwards motion symbolizes our following the Yetzer HaTov--whose one instructions elevates us towards the heavens.  On the other hand, as Chazal teach, the Yetzer Hara has seven names--representing that he can ‘take us down’ in several different ways.  Accordingly, it is of the essence that we focus on the Achas LeMa’alah--and with that we can overcome its multiple counterpart--the Sheva L’Matta.


H.  HaRav Zaidel Epstein, Z’tl, was asked why the Ahshamnus are in the plural--after all doesn’t one have to find forgiveness for his own sins first?!  HaRav Epstein responded that every Jew is responsible for his fellow’s actions, and that, accordingly, every Teshuva that we do is on behalf of others as well! 



Special Note Five:  We provide important points and pointers relating to Neilah:


A.  The Sefer Otzros HaTorah writes that the end of Yom Kippur, when the gates close, brings a Shefa Gadol along with it, for a climax or a conclusion is always a time of greatest intensity.  For instance, as the Medrash Shochar Tov teaches, before Alos HaShachar is the time when the night is darkest.  Similarly, at the end of days will the Yetzer Hora be at its strongest--for it is about to reach the end of its purpose. So too, is the Shefa of Kaparas Yom HaKippurim greatest during these last moments of Neilah.  Over the last 40 days, Days of Mercy, we have davened and pleaded, done Teshuva and given Tzedaka.  We have, to use the Mashal of the Maggid M’Lublin, shot all of our arrows but one.  There is a lion on the other side of the grass and there is one arrow left--this is Tefillas Neilah.  Our lives depend upon how powerfully we deliver our final arrow! 


B.  Sent to us from  the ‘Flatbush Chabura’:  “Rav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita, brings from the Meshech Chochma that while there usually is no kapara for Chilul Hashem except at the end of a person’s life (through constant Kiddush Hashem and Limud HaTorah are brought by the seforim as being a kapara), at the time of Neilah when Hashem is Don Yechidi (judges all by Himself) , if one has done proper Teshuva through charata and bechi (crying) one can gain mechila EVEN for Chilul Hashem. This gives us some insight into the amazing power of the time of Neilah!”


 C.  A great theme of Tefillas Neilah is LeMa’an Nechdal MeiOshek Yadeinu--that we have no thievery or the taking of another’s possessions left among us (as we know this is what the Dor HaMabul’s final cause of destruction was).  Accordingly, the Chofetz Chaim warns everyone to seriously consider and reflect upon whether he has something that really belongs to someone else in his possession and make immediate decisions to rectify the situation. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Z’tl ( Boston , RIETS) additionally notes that the thievery we may be referring to is our stealing from Hashem, our people and ourselves--by not living up to our purpose in life.  At Neilah, we proclaim that we will no longer follow that sorry, past route--and that we fully intend to live up to Hashem’s expectations of us! 


D.  We conclude Neilah with the phrase Hashem Hu HaElokim seven times--as with these words the Shechinah is escorted back up through the Seven Rekiyim.  It is essential for us to realize that this is the phrase that all of the people on Har HaKarmel recited when Eliyahu defeated the nevi’ei haba’al--with Hashem’s acceptance of his sacrifice.  We must realize that we are now in a similar position.  The ‘ba’al’ is behind us--Hashem has accepted our Karbon--and we intend to forever and ever tread on a new and successful path in His Avodah!


E.  One should also remember that on Motza’ei Yom Kippur he will be enjoying a Seudas “Yom Tov”, but also a Seudas Melaveh Malka!  What a wonderful accomplishment!


F.  May we suggest that even if one does not have a Yeshiva Mai Chayil El Chayil in his community that he still demonstrate his new goals and aspirations by setting aside time for Torah study after the Seudah.  This is dedication--this is rededication!  






Special Note One:  We provide the following important links for you to print out and further distribute for Yom Kippur, as we have done in the past:


A.  The extremely essential words of the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvoda relating to Inui on Yom Kippur are available by clicking here--and what to think about if we start to become hungry or thirsty.  


B.  Suggested Kabbalos in Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam LeChaveiro areas are available by clicking here.  Any additional suggestions you may have would be most welcome!


C.  A Vidui Card in Lashon HaKodesh with more detailed specification as to possible Aveiros.  Please click here


D.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in Lashon HaKodesh.  Please click here


E.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in English. Please click here



Special Note Two:  We continue with important points and pointers as we stand just two days from the Shabbos Shabbason of Yom Kippur:


1.  If one has the capability, he should most certainly review and study the classic Chapter 143 of the Sefer Chayei Adam  which so beautifully and meaningfully explains the focused attitude and approach one should have to and on Yom Kippur.  We note that the Chayei Adam provides more detail of specific Aveiros, and that HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, views the detail of the Chayei Adam as being ‘mefaret’--specifying one’s sins.


2.  There is an awesome thought related by HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita--may he have a Refuah Sheleima Bekarov, relating to why the ten great sons of Rav Pappa are mentioned at every Siyum. Rav Pappa, in ten places in Shas, resolves a difference of opinion between Amoraim by demonstrating Kavod for both of them, and ruling that we should conduct ourselves like both of them.  Because of his special display of Kavod HaTorah, he was zoche to have ten sons who themselves were unique Talmidei Chachomim--deserving and receiving Kavod HaTorah as well.  At the time of a Siyum, which is a time of true Kavod HaTorah, we recount their names.  We can all improve in some aspect of our Kavod to the Torah and those who study it--the way we speak, the way we act, the way we learn together, and the elevated regard we should have for all levels of Torah students and their studies.


3.  HaRav Pam would always emphasize the need for one to write his Kabbalos in a notebook, and check up upon them as he moves through the year.  As an essential first step today, one should buy a notebook, or establish the method in which he will keep a record of his Kabbalos and his successes on a day-to-day basis. 


4.  In the physical world, as runners get closer and closer to the finish line, they do not slow down or sway to the side out of exhaustion or abandonment--but stay very much on the path, putting in their extra full strength for the most successful finish possible.  We should apply our knowledge of this fact to the Real World situation immediately ahead of us--which will have eternal and everlasting effects!


5.  The Chofetz Chaim provides an amazing Mashal.  A merchant came to a wholesaler and put together an order of $100,000. When it was time to pay he explained that he did not have the money, but would like to purchase all of this on credit. Based upon the wholesaler’s experience with this merchant’s slow payment in the past, the wholesaler wholly rejected the request.  However, after much prodding and pleading, he was about to give in.  His salesman and workers stopped him--explaining to him that it would cost him untold aggravation, time and money.  The wholesaler was in a quandary--should he listen to the merchant with the poor credit record, but who was in dire need of making a living--or to his loyal workers?!  At that moment, a wise man walked in and the wholesaler immediately asked him what to do. The wise man turned to the merchant in need of a livelihood and asked him if he had $5,000.  The response was affirmative.  He advised the merchant not to buy anything on credit, but instead to buy $5,000 worth of goods.  When he sold those and made money he could come back and buy $7,500 in goods.  No credit would be necessary.  The merchant would buy for cash and the wholesaler and all of his loyal employees would be happy.  The Nimshal:  We ask Hashem for credit, saying we will do better in the future, but the Malachim vehemently argue against us, pointing to our past record.  Our Rabbanim, the wise men, tell us to do Teshuva in areas and ways where we can accomplish, in ‘cash’, little by little building up our business on our own--so that everyone is pleased--and everyone is happy!


6.   ‘KeKelev Shav El Kayo…’--just as a dog returns to that which it has regurgitated, so too does an unwise person return to the sins that he has committed in the past. We may want to keep this graphic thought on our minds as a method for not returning to the foibles of yesteryear.


7.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (133:21) writes that the reason for Yizkor on Yom Kippur is not only because thinking about the departed humbles one’s heart, but also because the deceased also need a Kapparah. It is for this reason that we give Tzedaka in their merit—Hashem viewing it as their own giving-- viewing it as 'if he were still alive he would have given this as well'.  Those who are alive can also ask that Hashem ease the judgment of the departed, just as Dovid HaMelech davened for Avshalom.  The departed can also be Melitzei Yosher for us in our judgment--we do not daven to them but we ask them to daven on our behalf, perhaps in the merit of our following in their ways. 


8.  Some ask why there is no bracha on the Mitzvah of Teshuva.  The wonderful Sefer Otzros HaTorah brings several answers:  (a) The Bais Yitzchak writes that it would be inappropriate to say the words VeTzivanu Al HaTeshuva--which would indicate that we would not want to do Teshuva unless we were commanded to do so, (b) The Divrei Yisroel writes that this is a Mitzvah that applies to all nations and not only the Jewish people, and therefore Asher Kideshanu B’Mitzvosav would not be accurate in this context, (c) The Pardes Yosef writes that the Ikar Mitzvah of Teshuva is in the heart and that Chazal did not institute brachos over Mitzvos of the heart, (d) The Pardes Yosef brings as a second approach--we do not make a bracha over Mitzvos which are related to Aveiros.  For instance, when returning a stolen item and fulfilling a Mitzvas Asei of VeHeishivEs HaGezeilah we do not make a bracha. So too does Teshuva originate from a sin initially committed, and so a bracha would be inappropriate.


9.  The Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De’ah 213) brings an amazing question from a ‘Kadmon Echad’: How is it that if one enters a Mikvah he becomes Tahor--after all shouldn’t he make the water tamei upon his touching it?  The answer is that since the water isattached to the ground and never leaves it, it does not become tamei.  So, the Tahara of the Mikvah is based upon the water remaining attached to its source.  So too, is the Tahara that we receive from Hashem--we must remain attached to our source--Mi Mitaher Eschem Avichem Shebashamayim. Without our Deveikus to Hashem--we could not become Tahor! 


10.  Finally, in the Yom Kippur davening we emphasize that Hashem is a Salchan and a Machlan.  What does the extra nun at the end of each of these words come to indicate--why don’t we say that Hashem is simply a Soleiach and a Mochel?  The Sefer Otzros HaTorah explains that the extra nun indicates a hanhaga temidis--that this is a constant and recurring Middah of Hashem. Thus, even if a person falls back to a sin time and again--as long as he was truly sincere, expressed true remorse, and with a full heart was mekabel not to do it again--then Hashem will be a Salchan and a Malchan—and continuously grant new forgiveness!  The old aveiros are gone.  Any new aveiros can be wiped out by Hashem with our new Teshuva--for he is a Salchan and a Machlan!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on our personal requests in Elokai Netzor:


A.  We come close to concluding our Tefillah with the words LeMa’an Yeichaltzun Yedidecha Hoshia Yeminecha VeAneini.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander explains that we refer to ourselves as Yedidecha, as we plead to Hashem that He should save all of Klal Yisroel from its Tzaros not because of our own Zechuyos, but rather because we are his Yedid--we more than any other people are close to Him.  We further ask Hashem to save us with Yemincha --His Right Hand which symbolizes open miracles--as we look forward to great days and great events, may they come soon (we are in a solid time--today, 8 Tishrei, is the first day of the Inauguration of the First Bais Hamikdash by Shlomo HaMelech) .  The final word of Aneini is movingly related to the Tefillah of Eliyahu HaNavi on Har HaKarmel as he fought against the neviei haba’al for the sake of Klal Yisroel-where he exclaimed Aneini Hashem Aneini!  We should use it with the same feeling!


B.  We now have the opportunity of reciting Yehiyu LeRatzon again--a second privilege to repeat the last Pasuk of Kepitel 19 of Tehillim with all of its import and meaning as previously discussed.  We note that with the term Hegyon Libi we uniquely ask that Hashem not only hear the words of our prayers--but that He even answer us for the requests of our hearts even we were unable to properly express them.  What a powerfully encompassing Tefillah--how important our Kavannah is here!



Special Note One:  What is the last word of Avinu Malkeinu?  Why do think that it is fitting that we end Avinu Malkeinu with this word?



Special Note Two:  As we noted yesterday, by this time one should be placing some focus on blineder his/her Kabbalos for the coming year. May we suggest that there should be at least one Kabbalah in each of the following areas:  Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam LeChaveiro, and Bein Adam LeAtzmo.  Hakhel Note: In the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro area, may we remind everyone of the Chofetz Chaim’s teaching that in the future everyone will be healed--except for the Ba’al Lashon Hara!



Special Note Three:  Relating to yesterday’s point on the joy of Torah learning, we may add that a person can utilize his own chitzoniyus, his own resources to help increase his joy in Torah learning. For instance, some have the habit of vigorously (or even gently) shaking their legs to and fro as they sit and learn. This may create an aura of nervousness and impatience which is the antithesis of happiness in Torah study.  Thus, may we suggest that a person try to curb his habit in this regard?  Others may have the custom of keeping their Blackberries handy and examining the cause of every vibration as it occurs.  If one wants to express his appreciation for the sweet privilege of Torah learning, he may want to try the exercise of keeping his phone on silent or turned off from the time he is in Shiur or otherwise occupied with Torah study. 


Hakhel Note:  The story is told of how HaRav Aryeh Levin,Z’tl, wanted to visit some Jewish prisoners being held by the British.  The British guard on duty at the entrance tothe jail that day decided to exercise his 'authority' and would not let him in.  The Jewish guard who was working together with the British guard advised the Britain that the Rabbi was a righteous person, simply wanted to visit the prisoners out of the goodness of his heart--and that it was wrong not to let him in. The Britain mocked him and said that he was obviously a salaried worker who was happy to go home without doing anything while still getting paid.  A few minutes later they noticed HaRav Levin sneaking into the compound through a different door when he thought no one was looking.  The Britain remarked:  “Now I see that he is a righteous person—and he is not doing it for the money!”  We must realize that it is the extra endeavor, the 'above and beyond', the additional effort, that distinguishes between our ‘having to do something’ and the love of Torah and Mitzvos that should truly be part of our fiber and being!



Special Note Four:  We continue with the focus on our personal Tefillos in Elokai Netzor: 


A.  In the next phrase we daven VeChol HaChoshvim Alai Ra’ah Meheirah Hafer Atzasam, Vekalkel Machshavtam. The Avudraham explains the juxtaposition between our previous request that Hashem empower us to chase after Mitzvos, with this request that he nullify our enemies' plans and designs against us.  In the Avudraham’s words:  “For when one runs after Mitzvos, his enemies will not run after him, Middah K’neged Middah-- since he wants to pursue Mitzvos, Hashem will stop the enemy from pursuit!”  The difference between Hafer Atzasam and Kaklel Machshavtam, explains HaRav Chaim Friedlander is that the Eitzah is closer to being put into action and therefore requires immediate action-- Meheirah Hafer Atzasam, but if possible we ask that their original Machshava be thwarted to begin with-- Kalkel Machshavtam--so that we do not even have to initially feel or sense the fear. 




B.  The next words of our personal Tefillah are Asei LeMa’an Shemecha Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha, Asei LeMa’an Kedushasecha Asei LeMa’an Torasecha.  Incredibly, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim122:3) itself, based upon the Tur, actually writes that one who recites these words regularly is zoche to be MeKabel Pnei Shechina.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains each one of these phrases--let us have real Kavannah--remember the ASSURANCE of the Shulchan Aruch-- MeKabel Pnei Shechina!:


Asei LeMa’an Shemecha--Please redeem us from our Golus, so that Your Name will no longer be disgraced among the nations.


Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha-- Please redeem us from our Golus, so that the Might of Your Right Hand (represented by great miracles) is no longer held back in this Golus.


Asei LeMa’an Kedushasecha--Please redeem us from our Golus, so that everyone will realize that you lead us B’Derech Kedusha. 


Asei LeMa’an Torasecha--please redeem us from our Golus, so that we can all study Torah B’Shleimus--which is what will happen when there is a Bais HaMikdash!



Special Note Five:  We provide brief notes relating to our preparations for Yom Kippur from the newly published Sefer Kovetz Halachos:  Yomim Noraim by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, containing the pesokim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita.  If one has any particular questions, situations or Minhagim, he should of course consult with his own Posek as to the Halacha for him:


1.  One performing Kapparos on behalf of another (i.e., moving the chicken, fish or money around the other person's head and reciting ‘Zeh Chalifaseich’) should first recite Kapparos for himself--so that one who is already Zakkai can come and help someone else become Zakkai.


2.  If one knows that his friend does not perform Kapparos--it does not appear that it will help to perform Kapparos on his behalf without his knowledge.


3. A child over the age of nine who will at least fast for a portion of Yom Kippur should also be educated in the importance of eating Erev Yom Kippur.


4.  If someone drinks water after the Seudas HaMafsekes, and is doing so not because he is thirsty, but just that he won’t be thirsty on Yom Kippur, would not make a bracha on the water.


5.  Both a father and the mother should bentsch a child on Erev Yom Kippur. 


6.  It is better for the one being blessed to be in close proximity to the one giving the blessing, but the bracha may be given at a distance as well. 


7.  If one embarrassed his friend in public, one must ask for his mechila in public, as well.  However, it is enough to ask for mechila in front of ten people--even if he embarrassed him in front of more than ten people. 


8.  Not only should spouses ask mechila of each other, but family members should ask mechila of each other as well, for through the course of the year they may hurt each other because of their closeness. 


9.  One should ask mechila of a child whom he hurt or embarrassed--even thought he must do so again when the child becomes bar/bas mitzvah in order to obtain forgiveness. 


10.  Each time one recites Vidui it is a separate Mitzvah, and each time one should have Kavannah that he/she is being mekayem the Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah of Vidui. One Vidui is not me’akev any other. Children should also be taught to recite Vidui. One who recites Vidui in Shul will have recited in the aggregate ten Viduim which, the Tur (Orach Chaim620) writes, corresponds to the ten times that the Kohein Gadol mentioned the Ineffable Name on Yom Kippur.  If a person is davening at home, he need not make up the Viduim that would be otherwise recited in Chazaras HaShatz.


11.  VaElKulam Elo'ak Selichos is not part of the Vidui, and need not be recited in a bowed position.


12.  If one recites the details of various sins found in alphabetical order in the Chayei Adam (Chapter 143), it would be considered as if he is specifically listing his sins.  Of course, one should add any additional specifics ins that he remembers.  When one adds his own specifics sins in his own language, he may be more sincere and embarrassed, and feel greater remorse about his sin--and this is a potent Vidui.


13.  One beats his chest when reciting the words in Ashamnu, as well as when reciting the words She'chatanu in each of the Al Chaits, and when reciting the words Al Chataim at the end of the Al Chait.  Additionally, one should also beat his chest when mentioning any specific sin that he adds on his own. 


14. Some have the custom not to wear golden objects on Yom Kippur.  This would not include white gold, nor would it include anything which may look like gold, but is not truly gold. 


15.  One who has the custom of washing his hands four times when he wakes in the morning, should only wash three times on Yom Kippur, and one who has the custom of washing three times upon leaving the bathroom, should only wash once.  One should not use deodorant, as it is considered Sicha on Yom Kippur.


16.  Women should also recite Tefillas Zaka, and skip the parts that do not relate to them. Women who go to Shul should be careful not to recite Shehechiyanu twice.


17.  One should bring himself to cry in his Tefillos on Yom Kippur and should make his requests of Hashem--even when Yom Kippur falls out on Shabbos. 


18.  When mentioning Shabbos in the Friday night davening, it would appear appropriate that one have in mind that he is fulfilling the Mitzvah of Zechiras Shabbos.



Special Note Six:  From a reader who beautifully provides an answer to our question as to why we are born without the ability to speak--if our essence is to be a Ruach Memalela: "...Human beings exist before our essence is defined; we get to define it ourselves. This is also what distinguishes us from the mal'akhim.  This process of choice, of self definition, of dynamic growth, of watching and (hopefully) improving our thinking and decision-making, does begin at infancy!"



Special Note One:  Something to think about:  Why is it that human beings are born with fingers and toes, eyes and ears, but are born without teeth, and that they slowly get teeth before they begin to speak, then begin to utter more coherent sounds and develop their speech over time.  After all, don’t we know that human beings were created to be a “Nefesh Chaya”, which the Targum Yonasan defines as a “Ruach Melalo”, or a talking spirit?!  How could it be that man is created without the very talking spirit that he is supposed to be?! 



Special Note Two:  We provide by clicking here WONDERFUL KAVANNAH CARDS for Kriyas Shema and Brachos supplied to us by a reader.  Please spread the word!



Special Note Three:  Reminder--Tzedaka today--if not now--then when?!

Hakhel Note:  We cannot overemphasize the importance of giving Tzedaka in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. The Rambam two separate times in Hilchos Teshuvah (2:4 and 3:4) highlights the giving of Tzedaka as a key element of the Teshuvah process. In fact, the Rambam writes (ibid.) that one should be ‘Marbeh BeTzedakah–give much Tzedakah’ during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. We should not let a day pass this week in which we do not give Tzedakah, so that our path to Teshuvah is well paved. Let us remember the words of the Navi (Yeshaya 56:1). that we read on Tzom Gedaliah “Shimru Mishpat Va’Asu Tzedaka Ki Kerova Yeshuasi Lavo–observe justice and perform Tzedaka for My Yeshua is soon to come….”  In the Zechus of our constant and persevering Tzedakah, may we be Zoche to Yeshuos for ourselves and for all of Klal Yisroel!



Special Note Four: IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT-- START YESHIVAS MAICHAYIL EL CHAYIL IN YOUR SHUL OR COMMUNITY:  For the last few years we have seen the great success of Yeshivas Maichayil El Chayil--where men, boys, and fathers and sons, COME BACK TO SHUL after a post Yom Kippur Seudah to study Torah for an hour to demonstrate their true rededication to the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah which is KeNeged Kulam.  To spur the boys on, gifts and raffles for Seforim and Yom Tov prizes can be offered--and those donating the funds for the prizes, and purchasing them, certainly have a Chelek in Talmud Torah DeRabbim--on Motzei Yom Kippur!  Please bring this INCOMPARABLE PROGRAM to your shul or community--and what a sweetening Zechus it will be for you and yours on Yom Kippur!  We have sample flyers and raffle tickets.  Please contact us if you have any questions at all--347-409-5061.



Special Note Five:   From a reader “Previously, you published the following paragraph. Could you perhaps share this again with readers, and include some explanation? Specifically, what should the personal Tefillah say in reference to Kavod Shomayim? An expression of our wanting Kavod Shomayim to be revealed? Or is the Tefillah supposed to be more specific? Thank you.”  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita brings a Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Tehillim 102), in which we are taught that our personal prayers on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur actually take the place of “the Navi, the Kohein, the Bais Hamikdash, that would have otherwise brought Kappara for them.”  For those who have not yet done so, now is the time to prepare your private supplication to Hashem.  HaRav Salomon suggests that your personal entreaty be recited before the words “Asei Lema’an Shemecha” at the end of Shemone Esrei.  

Hakhel Response:  We believe that HaRav Salomon would like us to focus on making or directing our personal needs to Kavod Shomayim. Just as we pray in Zochreinu LeChaim that Hashem remembers us for life LeMa’anecha Elokim Chaim--for His sake--so too with all of our more specific needs--such as health, parnassah, shalom, shidduchim, etc.--we should emphasize that our requests are not selfish--or even self-centered--but rather to fulfill our purpose in life.  Writing it down--expressing it in your own words--and reciting it with sincerity--is a great way to focus your attention on what is important to you--and why.



Special Note Six:   By now, one should be formulating the Kabbala/Kabbalos that he intends to undertake for the coming year. We asked HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, when one should finalize his Kabbalos.  He advised that his Rebbe, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, would formalize and express it at Neilah on Yom Kippur. Now is the time we should be going through the preparatory and practice stages to make sure the Kabbalos work, and how we can refine and improve on them.



Special Note Seven:  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (VI: p. 254, 255) specifically writes that one must appease his friend even if his friend is wrong, and even if his friend provoked him, to the extent that he hurled insults upon him. The Piskei Teshuvos adds that people do the wrong thing when they go around asking their close friends “Do you Mochel me?”, “Do you Mochel me?”, rather than spending the time to speak to those with whom there has been friction or difficulties, asking them for Mechila–which is really what is important.  Additional Note One:  We have already noted the Mishna Berurah who rules that when one forgives another who hurt him intentionally or wantonly--Hashem will also forgive him for his acts of malice as well! Additional Note Two:  Can one first ask Hashem for forgiveness of a Bein Adam Lechaveiro activity--by reciting Vidui and only afterwards ask the hurt party for forgiveness--or must one first ask of and obtain forgiveness from the person--and only then come to Hashem and recite Vidui?  The answer will remind you how important asking for forgiveness--especially BEFORE Yom Kippur--really is!



Special Note Eight: When we recite the words in Selichos and on Yom Kippur of “Aval Anachnu VaAvoseinu Chatanu–but we and our forefathers have sinned,” we must remember that they are actually part of the Vidui itself. In fact, the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva (2:8) calls these words the “Ikar” of Vidui. Accordingly, it would appear that one should be slightly bowed over as he recites these words, as in the remainder of the Vidui.



Special Note Nine:  There are ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and ten chapters in Hilchos Teshuva of the Rambam. Do you think that the Rambam is suggesting that we learn one chapter a day over the Aseres Yemei Teshuva? Well, at this point, we can learn two chapters a day…and still finish before Yom Kippur!



Special Note Ten:  Chazal teach that during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we recite HaMelech Hakodosh, rather than HaKel Hakodosh. Why is it that HaMelech must replace HaKel in the bracha? Can’t we just add HaMelech before or after HaKel, so that it is HaKel HaMelech Hakodosh? After all, as we concluded U’Nesaneh Tokef, did we not cry out that Hashem is Melech Kel Chai V’Kayam? Moreover, Kel is even in the Shelosh Esrei Middos that we have been reciting and will continue to recite so many important times through the end of Yom Kippur. Why not continue to include it in the bracha, as we do on the other 364 days of the year?! We look forward to your thoughts!



Special Note Eleven:  We continue with our focus on our personal Tefillos in Elokai Netzor:

A.  We continue with the request of VeLimkalelai, Nafshi Sidom--may I remain silent as the dirt of the earth to those who want to harm me.  I don’t want to anger or react--I want to be above those who are lowly.  Note that we have just completed asking for assistance with our speech--we now ask for assistance with our silence!

B. With the next words VeNafshi KeAffar Lakol Tiheye we pray to Hashem that we attain true resilience  and humility.  The mashal to dirt is important--for just as dirt is trodden upon but remains and even hardens--and just as vegetation and sustenance comes forth from the earth--so too may I be continuously blessed.  Indeed, Hashem happily advised Avrohom Avinu (who had of course exclaimed ‘VeAnoci Affar VeEifer’)--that Vehaya Zaracha KeAffar HaAretz. We have different values than the rest of the world--Moshe Rabbeinu was especially marked as  ‘Anav Me’od’--and this is what we strive for and desire to touch as well.

C.  Then, we plead Pesach Libi BeSoresecha--I recognize that I need your help to attain my chelek in Torah-please open up all of the roads for my success. We may suggest that the heart in particular is used because it symbolizes emotion--and the greatest success in all areas of Torah learning is through joy. We daven to  Hashem for the proper insight and attitude to attain the joy of Torah.

D. Next, U’VeMitzvosecha Tirdof Nafshi--there are many tirdos and redifos--many difficulties, tests, errands and tasks which occupy a person throughout the day--but I ask of You, Hashem, that my day be infused and suffused with  a ‘run’ on Mitzvos--so that what I chase after in my life has true meaning and relevance--not only in this world--but forever after!


Welcome to 5772! May it be a Year which is Malei Birkas Hashem! 


Special Note One:  We provide points and pointers relating to this precious week which holds the majority of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva within it. We especially note that there are still six days left-- six days of action--which can help us attain the Birkas Hashem and the sweet year that we so long for:


A.  GRAND OPPORTUNITY--START YESHIVAS MAICHAYIL EL CHAYIL IN YOUR SHUL OR COMMUNITY:  For the last few years we have seen the great success of Yeshivas Maichayil El Chayil--where men, boys, and fathers and sons, COME BACK TO SHUL after a post Yom Kippur Seudah to study Torah for an hour to demonstrate their true rededication to the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah which is KeNeged Kulam.  To spur the boys on, gifts and raffles for Seforim and Yom Tov prizes can be offered--and those donating the funds for the prizes, and purchasing them, certainly have a Chelek in Talmud Torah DeRabbim--on Motzei Yom Kippur!  Please bring this INCOMPARABLE PROGRAM to your shul or community--and what a sweetening Zechus it will be for you and yours on Yom Kippur!  We have sample flyers and raffle tickets Please contact us if you have any questions at all--347-409-5061.


B. Last week at this time we were blowing Shofar. This week, we no longer hear the wondrous and piercing sound.  Why is this really so--if the Shofar is to move us to Teshuva should we not continue to hear its sublime message through Yom Kippur-- as we reach the epitome of Teshuva?!  We may suggest that the Shofar heralds the Days of Judgment--that the King will soon be arriving to sit in Judgment and will stay close to us (Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzo) from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur.  Once the King arrives on Rosh Hashana, though, it would be superfluous and even perhaps insulting to the King and even to His subjects that any kind of reminder is needed that the King is here.  We must accordingly be acting in a very special way at this time--with the knowledge and awareness that the King is here this week visiting with us.  Our learning, our tefillos, our mitzvos, should be and feel different.  It would not hurt for a person to make a little sign for himself to place on his desk, refrigerator or other conspicuous place that reads ASERES YEMEI TESHUVA--just so that the extra caution and precaution, care and vigilance, is exercised during these precious days.


C.  Next week at this time we will no longer have the privilege of reciting the incredible and powerful Avinu Malkeinu tefilla.  We must treasure each opportunity this week--and each and every plea for mercy should be heartfelt.  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita teaches in the name of HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, Z'tl that Avinu Malkeinu provides a very special combination:  A father sometimes wants to give to his child but is unable--he doesn't have the ability, the time, the funds, etc.  A king, on the other hand, has all of the above--but he simply may not have the willingness or desire to help his subject.  Hashem, however, is different. As a Father--Ich Vill--I want to give, and as a King--Ich Kenn--I can give!  We therefore approach Hashem as our Father and King who can certainly actualize our requests!   The Father and King needs only to see and hear that we are His loyal son and subject.  Indeed, even if we have gone astray in the past, he can see the sincerity of our current requests--as we heartfully plead with Him "Chaneinu VaAneinu...Asei Imanu Tzedaka VaChesed VeHoshieinu.  Suggestion:  Perhaps we can stretch out our hand and have a Hirhur Teshuva as we ask for this Tzedaka VaChesed here to demonstrate our fervent belief in the Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzo that this week so especially and uniquely houses! 



D. In last week's Haftara, the Navi Hoshea (14:2,3), after urging us to do Teshuva (Shuva Yisroel!) immediately instructs us on how to do Teshuva with the words "Kechu Imachem Devorim Veshuvu El Hashem--take words with you and return to Hashem.  We must take our words with us--we must realize (as the Vidui Booklet points out) that a GREAT NUMBER of the sins we mention in the Vidui of Yom Kippur have to do with misuse and abuse of that great power that distinguishes us from animal--our power of speech.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that if we are more circumspect with our speech, we can be free of the following Issurim:


1. Lashon Hora--brings many, many other aveiros along with it and can destroy relationships, families and lives

2. Rechilus--as above, and perhaps even more hurtful to the person

3. Sheker-while Hashem's seal is Emes!

4. Chanufa--including egging on...'you're right!'

5. Laitzanus--mockery, poking fun, ridicule

6. Ona'as Devorim--hurtful or insulting words

7. Halbanas Panim--one reader pointed out that embarrassing another in public causes                  one to forfeit his share in Olam Haba--and then asked if this is so --is this the greatest  aveira--even greater than Chillul Hashem....

8.  Divrei Ga'avah--words of arrogance--even though the sign of greatness is humility (Iggeres Haramban)

9.  Divrei Machlokes--fighting, argumentative words

10.  Divrei Ka'as --words of anger that you won't be able to take back.


Perhaps we can keep this list around near a place(s) where we can look at it before we are about to make a statement or comment, or have a conversation, that is not within our usual manner of speech.  Remember the VERY FIRST words of instruction of the Navi--Kechu Imachem Devorim--VeShuvu el Hashem!  May you hear your success--with your very own ears! 


Hakhel Note:  If you can free yourself of an Aveira--you will then be reciting the Vidui exclusively on behalf of someone else (as Kol Yisroel Areivim Zeh LaZeh)--so you will be fulfilling an additional mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha!


E.  The Hakdama (Introduction) to the Mesilas Yeshorim and the 25th Chapter (almost at the end of the Sefer, having climbed many heights) end with the very same Pasuk (see there for the Pasuk).  It would seem very appropriate to make this Pasuk a part of a person's everyday parlance--no matter what level you are on --whether at the Introduction--at the level of Ruach Hakodesh--or anywhere in between!


F. Remember--Tzedaka today!  If one did not give more for Tzom Gedalya yesteday--please recall Chazal's teaching (Brachos 6B)--Igra DeTaanisa Tzidkasa--and by doing so make the fast all the more meaningful!  


F.  Everyone must realize that not only is he a judge, as he is constantly judging other people (hopefully-favorably--for everyone's sake!), but that he is also a Rebbe--teaching others by his behavior. What time he arrives in Shul or to learn, how he treats Seforim, how he demonstrates respect to others when talking to them, how appropriately he dresses, how careful he is in reciting brachos, how he treats a person asking for charity or help, are just some of the most daily activities where are 'students' learn from us.  We can create daily Kiddush Hashem or c'v Chilul Hashem which can carry on for years (and maybe even generations) in and through the conduct and behavior of others who learn from us--our neighbors, friends and family. Our thoughtful actions not only have ramifications in the heavenly worlds now--but in the future in this very world!  Let us go for daily Kiddush Shem Shomayim--making it a part of our daily awareness and our daily goal!



Special Note Two:  Nineteen weeks in the making!  Hakhel has archived on its website a collection of the pieces that have been done for the past nineteen weeks, each week focusing on a different brocha of Shemone Esrei.  The archive is available by clicking here.



We now conclude this week with a focus our personal Bakashos in Elokai Netzor:


A.  Many, before reciting Elokai Netzor, first recite the Pasuk of Yiheyu LeRatzon Imrei Fi... (Tehillim 19:15).  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 122, seif katan 8) brings from the Seder HaYom that this Pasuk has much powerful meaning here, as it has 10 words, 10 Yuds, begins and ends with a Yud, and is comprised of 42 letters representing the 42 letter name of Hashem. Accordingly, the Mishna Berurah writes: 'Vesodo Sod Gadol'', and 'accordingly, one should recite it slowly and with kavanna , and it will very much assist his Tefillos to be accepted and not to be returned empty...." 


B.  The first two Bakashos of Elokai Netzor relate--as you may have guessed--to pleading for Hashem's assistance in the area of speech---please save me from (a) Lashon Hora, and (b)  from speaking falsehood or deceitfully.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that before we can make this request we must demonstrate the willpower and desire to abandon these practices ourselves--and then we can ask for the Siyata DiShmaya in every and all situations!


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