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28 Marcheshvan

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


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



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



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



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



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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


QUESTION:  A question we had raised: At the end of the Parsha, we learn that Eisav married Yishmael’s daughter--Machalas--and we derive from this name that a Chassan and Kallah are Mochul--forgiven for their past iniquities on the date of their wedding (of course Teshuva must be done).  Why would we learn something so important from a Shidduch which involves the joining of none other than Yishmael and Eisav (of whom we specifically recite in Selichos--Kalei Seir VeChosno)?!

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

ANSWER:  The Torah specifically records that Yaakov listened to his father and to his mother in order to teach us that a person should recognize that when he listens to both of his/her parents--he could actually fulfill two Mitzvos--one of Kibud Av, and a second one of Kibud Aim--as the Torah requires us not to simply listen to our “Horim”(“Respect Your Parents”) --but rather to properly honor each of our parents! 


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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



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



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



27 Marcheshvan

MEZUZAH REMINDER !  Contrary to a mistaken belief, Mezuzahs do not have to be checked twice in seven years--but rather, according to Halacha, once in three and one-half years. This means that if you checked your Mezuzos four years ago--it is ‘not ok’ and the Mezuzahs should be checked immediately. We recommend that, if you can, you should have the Sofer come to your home (even if it costs more) and check the Mezuzahs there--for in addition to an invaluable learning experience for you/your family, he can also check the placement--and the possible need or non-need for a Mezuzah in a particular location. If your community does not have this availability, we can suggest some Sofrim who may travel from NYC if there is sufficient request....The Mitzvah of Mezuzah is so precious that we mention it twice EVERY TIME we recite Kriyas Shema--day and night--let us do our utmost to excel in its performance!



QUOTE OF THE DAY :  Tzarich Ha’oseik BaTorah Sheyilmod Mikol Adam--one who is [truly] involved in Torah must learn from everyone…” (Sefer Tomer Devorah, by HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, Chapter 8)



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



FROM A READER: On Nichum Aveilim: “Like all things in life ‘Aino Domeh Shemia L’Re’iyah”-- experiencing something is unique. My mother, a’h, was niftar almost twenty five years ago at the age of 47. Her parents were still living, and as devastating as it was for me (and my father y’lc)--for her parents it was much worse. Because people are so uncomfortable at nichum aveilim, they often make nervous conversation ignoring the Halacha not to speak before the avel does. The crucial and most vital point of nichum aveilim is to come and SAY NOTHING! Why? Because you are recognizing the other person’s pain in the most meaningful way possible; i.e., there is nothing that I (the menachem ) can do or say that fully recognizes the extent of the loss. My grandfather’s first glimmer of nechama came when HaRav Aharon Schechter, Shlita came to be menachem avel. HaRav Schechter came and for a good few minutes sat there and merely looked at us (mainly my grandfather) without speaking, and looked down repeatedly and since it was Rav Aharon, no one else spoke either, thankfully. Finally my grandfather decided to speak (I had the same thing with HaRav HaGaon Schwadron, Z’tl, who I spoke to on the phone when my mother was nifter; his response was one of his famous great ‘krechtz’--a sigh so deep that it still echoes in my mind these many years later). For my grandfather a’h and all of us it was the first taste of some form of nechama. I share these personal thoughts with you because I believe that since people don’t learn hilchos aveilus they unfortunately are missing out on the most basic and important component of this mitzvah. The only reason I am aware of it is because l’a I went through it myself. In fact I have had unfortunately many occasions to implement the foregoing. I feel strongly that many people are very unaware of this concept and should learn it. May we only have simchos!”





1.  We find that Yitzchak Avinu finally digs a well which the Plishtim do not dispute--and so he calls the place Rechovos--Ki Atta Hirchiv Hashem Lanu--for now Hashem has granted us ample space.... (Bereishis 26:22). Yet, in the very next Pasuk we learn VaYa’al Misham Be’er Sheva--and Yitzchak went up from there to Be’er Sheva! Why did Yitzchak Avinu seemingly immediately leave--if he had just found and founded an indisputable place for his family to dwell?


2.  There is a custom in some Shuls to sell one of the Aliyos in this week’s Parsha--which one and why?


3.  At the end of the Parsha, we learn that Eisav married Yishmael’s daughter--Machalas--and we derive from this name that a Chassan and Kallah are Mochul--forgiven for their past iniquities on the date of their wedding (of course Teshuva must be done). Why would we learn something so important from a Shidduch which involves the joining of none other than Yishmael and Eisav (of whom we specifically recite in Selichos--Kalei Seir VeChosno)?!




Special Note One: As we reach the milestone of Yom Kippur Katan Kislev today--the first Yom Kippur Katan of 5774--we quickly realize that we are CLOSER TO CHANUKAH than we are to the Yomim Tovim of Tishrei! We must accordingly strengthen ourselves in our Teshuva B’Chol Yom as the year moves on to its next phase. It is our special duty to be vigilant not only in the words that we speak but in the words that we hear. When we hear certain catch phrases--we must know how to react and stymie the Lashon Hara that is about to come: “This is how my Rebbe talks....; She always....; He has this...; That kid gets me so angry....; Listen to this (with facial expression)...; I don’t want to say Lashon Hara.... With a bit of prevention--we can save ourselves--and our family member, friend or acquaintance from serious sin--as a few words here and a few words there can literally make the difference in a person’s success in this world. The Chofetz Chaim says it beautifully: “If we are enjoined by the Torah to help our friends in monetary matters--which are relative only to this fleeting and transitory world--all the more so (‘Kamma VeChamma Kiflei Kiflaim’) should we extend our goodness to their souls which will last for eternity!” When we protect ourselves from Lashon Hara--we are gaining access for ourselves--and our friend--to everlasting life. What a beautiful Avodah--an excellent Teshuva B’chol Yom example--to work on with sincerity and drive--as we take our right step forward ...to Chanukah!



Special Note Two: Our annual winter reminder: As we enter the winter season (above the Equator), more and more of us will be wearing dark coats and black galoshes and boots, and bringing umbrellas to shuls, simchas and other public places. The inevitable (well, almost-inevitable) happens:


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

· Reuven must have taken my boots!

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


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

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


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


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


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




26 Marcheshvan

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


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




Special Note One: Except for those among us who are geirim (who have chosen the path of Torah by insight and inspiration), we are genetically direct descendents of Avraham Avinu and have, quite literally, inherited (by DNA or otherwise), an heirloom of character known as gomlei chasodim, or bestowers of kindness (see Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:1).


How can we most effectively utilize, and even build upon, this enormous character treasure, so that our chesed shines beyond expectations of the average person, or even our own expectations?  Can we do something to make our Avos (or even more recent ancestors) point down at us and proudly say “These are my children”?


Here is a practical and effective suggestion:  Keep your own Chesed Recordbook.  In this notebook, you can, in different portions of the notebook:


·        List singles whom you know (or are made aware) who need a shidduch-and refer to it from time-to-time when speaking with friends or new acquaintances--you may even make a few shidduchim from within your very own notebook!

  • Keep changing a list of cholim to daven for, and/or give tzedakah for, daily.

  • Have a job page-people you know who are looking for a job and match them to jobs that become available

  • Calendar a phone call tomorrow or in a few days to a person not feeling well or to an elderly or lonely person, or to a person you know who needs cheering up, who just came to mind and who will soon be out of your mind.

  • Write down helpful information that you have learned, in order to share it with others (if you do not do immediate email to your email list).  Examples:  when flu shots are available; that a new drug is coming out; how to get rid of stains in your couch; how to save on your heating bills; self-control techniques, etc.

  • Collect a list of helpful phone numbers of all kinds and keep your own database, such as shaila hotline, poison control, other helplines, etc.

  • Jot down your thoughts as to how you can help a relative, neighbor, or friend which may come to your mind, and will slip away within the next few seconds.

  • In a calendar portion of the notebook, briefly note the chesed (both public and private) you may have performed today.  Remember-at least one private chesed daily!


Of course, the Chesed Recordbook need not be a “composition book” or “spiral”, and can be on a computer to the extent it works best for you.  The point is that you become a more chesed-oriented person than you already are by keeping a written record, which is essentially keeping up with yourself.


The heirloom is there, it only needs to be polished-for everyone to be proud of it.


One final point:  The more unnoticed or unappreciated the chesed, the greater the chesed is.  You may have to remind yourself of this from time-to-time.



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


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


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




25 Marcheshvan

SHEKALIM AVAILABLE! The Agudath Israel of Madison is now making available the Daf Yomi Shiurim of Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita on Mesechta Shekalim, by the following link: http://www.aiofmadison.org/shiurim-archive/





1. “I have a question: How many times does the Torah mention Eliezer by name in the entire incident with Rivka and her family? And, is there any significance in how many times Eliezer’s name is mentioned?”


2. “With regard to your “Question of the Day”, regarding how we know that Yishmael did Teshuvah simply because Yitzchak’s name is mentioned first at the Kevurah of Avraham, the Gur Aryeh says that if Yishmael would still have been a Rosho, he would never, under any circumstances, have allowed Yitzchak to go before him. Hence, Chazal derive from this Posuk that Yishmael did Teshuva (Artscroll Bereishis p. 977).” Hakhel Note: The Ba’alei Mussar note that true Teshuvah is not merely avoiding the aveirah--but uprooting it. They explain that by Yishmael letting Yitzchak go first--this demonstrated that he had uprooted the basis for all of his sinful conduct, acknowledging that his behavior had been all wrong, and that Yitzchak’s behavior would be his model of conduct from now on!


3.  Regarding your note on kedusha expunging zuhama: “According to Rav Shlomo Brevda, Zt’l, the zuhama came back after the chait ha’egel.  The zuhama grows inside a person when the person does an aveira.  Our zuhama is from the chait ha’egel until today.  The rest of the world’s zuhama is from the eitz hadaas until today.  Ours is thereby significantly smaller.”


4. “You must warn people not to text and drive at the same time. If each of your readers warns at least one person not to text and drive at the same time--who knows how much injury, and perhaps how many lives, can be saved. The same is true about talking on a cell phone while driving without a Bluetooth.”

Hakhel Note: Our hallmark is to be rachmanim and gomlei chasodim--what better way to demonstrate these traits than by exercising care and caution with our lives--and the lives of others!



QUESTION OF THE DAY : Tehillim Chapter 138 is known by Chazal as Hallel HaGadol. Yet, the word Hallel does not appear in the whole Kepitel, although the word Hodu does appear several times. Why, then, is this great Chapter referred to as Hallel HaGadol and not Hodu HaGadol?




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


E. We provide the following exceptionally meaningful teaching of Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Shlita: “Proper Shiva Protocol: Somehow, it feels like r’l I am visiting a ‘shiva’ house every week. Pleasant, it is not. But for some people it is probably agonizing or worse. I can usually spot those for whom it is a harrowing experience. They are the ones who insist on discussing every possible topic except the niftar: who got engaged that week, which cut of brisket they used for the pastrami they cooked, six advantages the RAV4 has over The Rogue, the latest rumor as to why a store closed or what not. And the volume of these conversations is often in direct correlation to their irrelevance. Chazal created shiva to allow the aveilim to speak about their loss. Period. If you didn’t know (or like) the niftar, if you have nothing to contribute, or cannot pretend to be interested, then you can simply sit quietly. I don’t mean to sound angry. Just disappointed. We can do better.”


F. HaRav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, Z’tl, provides an extremely moving teaching relating to Nichum Aveilim: In the words of nechama that are given to r’l an avel, we say that he should be comforted among the Aveilei Tzion Vi'Yrushalayim. What actually does the mourning of an individual over his loss have to do with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the mourning of the tzibbur over the galus we are in?! What is the comfort to the avel with these words? HaRav Wachtfogel explains that because of the long and bitter Galus, it is difficult for us to imagine that our Geulah and Yeshuah will unexpectedly come--and the words of the Navi (Yirmiyahu 31:12): “VeHafachti Evlam Lesason VeNichamtim VeSimachtim Migonam” will suddenly come true. Nevertheless, Hashem has given us an havtacha atzumah v’nifla’ah--a powerful and wondrous guarantee that He has not forgotten every drop of Jewish blood that has been spilled, every tza’ar that we have endured, nor any of anyone’s cries in Galus--and all that has befallen us in this long and bitter galus, each and every aspect of it--will be exchanged for sasson and simcha. So, too, should the avel know that the great tza’ar that he is experiencing will not last long and will end--for as we approach the final Geulah, all of the aveilim will be taken out of their pain and distress instantaneously as well.

Hakhel Note:…and with Techiyas Hameisim, all will be reunited!




24 Marcheshvan

From a Reader:  “Of the four occurrences of a Shalsheles in the Torah, Eliezer’s ‘Vayomar’ is the most difficult to explain.  ( Lot and Yosef are obvious, Moshe’s ‘Vayishchat’ was his last Korbon as acting Kohen Gadol.)  I would like to suggest that it is to show that Eliezer had to overcome his personal negiyus, his natural reluctance to perform his mission, because he was hoping for his own daughter for Yitzchak, hence the shalsheles to introduce his Tefillah to Hashem for Hatzlacha!”



Question of the Day:  Rashi near the end of last week’s Parsha (Beraishis 25:9) writes on the Pasuk that Yitzchak and Yishmael buried Avraham: ‘Mikahn She’Asah Yishmael Teshuva Veholich Es Yitzchak Lefanav --from here we see that Yishmael did Teshuva by having Yitzchak go first at the burial’.  Yet, Rashi earlier (Beraishis 21:9) taught us that Yishmael was guilty of the most heinous of sins--Avodah Zara, Arayos and Shefichus Domim--how could it be that because he put Yitzchak ahead of him at the kevura of  Avraham Avinu--that we know he did Teshuva?!  Your responses would be very much appreciated!



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




Special Note One: From the Sefer Toldos Shimshon by HaRav Shimshon Chayim (B’R Nachman Michoel) Nachmani, Z’tl: Chazal teach that at Har Sinai the zuhama, the contamination that the nachash had brought to mankind was removed and eliminated from K’lal Yisrael upon their acceptance of the Torah.  How did this happen?  By accepting the Torah, we brought Kedusha upon ourselves forever which caused the tumah of the zuhama to flee from us permanently. The new Kedusha and concomitant riddance of zuhama allows the Ohr HaTorah to be revealed to each and every member of K’lal Yisroel--allowing us to understand depths and meanings of the Torah right now and right here--in the midst of Olam HaZeh!  The Ohr HaTorah--let us feel it--and make it a part of us!



Special Note Two:  Several additional points and pointers on Parashas Chayei Sorah:

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


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


C.  In the Divrei Siach, Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshtaff, Shlita brings from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita that a segula to find a shidduch is to daven at a be’er mayim , a well--as we see that the Torah especially records that the Shidduchim of Yitzchak Avinu, Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu all very much involved wells! (See Shemos Rabbah 1:32)


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


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




21 Marcheshvan

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



EASY MATH :  Consider:  If one learns one Mishna a day for a year, he will have learned more than 350 Mishnayos--which should be at least a few Mesechtos. The water dripping into the cup will quite literally bring the cup to overflow! A Second Consideration: If one is determined that he will memorize two Mishnayos a week, so that he has some Torah available to him at all times--no matter where he is or where he is going, and whether or not he has a Sefer--then, over the course of the year he will have memorized over 100 Mishnayos, which is typically more than a Mesechta! Hakhel Note: The calculations are easy…they just have to be taken out of the classroom--into real life!



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



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


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


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


Thank You Hashem!  Thank You Hashem


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


QUESTION OF THE WEEK - ONE As one can see from the end of the Parsha, Eliezer had men who accompanied him on his journey, yet, there is no apparent reference to them in the Pesukim in terms of Rivka’s Chesed.  According to the Pesukim, she drew water for Eliezer, and for the camels that accompanied him.  What happened to the ostensibly thirsty men who needed her Chesed as well--did they not get drinks?



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




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


A. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 125 women.   This winter, Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are on Hilchos Muktzah. Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 33 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


34. If one wants a cucumber from a salad but the cucumber is at the bottom of the salad, how does one get to the cucumber?


Due to the fact that the salad is a mixture, one cannot remove the top part of the salad to get to the cucumber, for that is an act of removing the bad from the good. However, one is permitted to turn over the mixture with a utensil, so that one brings the bottom food to the top, with the cucumber becoming exposed, so that one is able to take it.


35. If one wants to set the table before going to shul but his cutlery is mixed, is there any way for him to set the table?


Yes, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Zt’l, held that one can do so by scattering the cutlery over the counter, so that they all become ‘unmixed’ and then one may take all the forks and place them down on the table or take them into one’s hand, and then do the same with the knives etc. [However, when taking the pieces of cutlery in one’s hand, one must be careful not to mix them up again.] To avoid this situation entirely, when one washes the cutlery after the Friday night meal, one should take one or two of them at a time to dry and then place them into its proper place in the cutlery drawer. In this way, they never become mixed and there will be no problem of borer the next morning when one wants to set the table before going to shul.


36. Is one permitted to use a water filter on Shabbos?


It all depends on whether one would drink the water without the filter. In a situation that one would drink the water without a filter, it is just that he prefers to use filtered water, then it is permitted to use the filter on Shabbos. However, if one would not use the water without a filter (e.g. in NYC where Poskim say there is a problem of copepods), then it is prohibited to use the filter on Shabbos. If so, what should one do? One should fill up bottles with water before Shabbos in order to use the water for drinking on Shabbos. One may in all events use the faucet that has a filter attached to it to wash one’s hands. If one forgot to fill up bottles or the bottles are empty, one may turn on the faucet to wash one’s hands, and once the faucet is on, one can refill the bottle with water for drinking.


37. Is one permitted to squeeze a lemon wrapped in a cloth onto a piece of fish?

It is prohibited to squeeze the lemon because the cloth is being used as a vessel to help separate the good from the bad.  Note: One is permitted to squeeze a lemon directly (without the use of a cloth) onto a solid on Shabbos, but may not squeeze the lemon into a liquid because of the prohibition of sechita.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


Additional Notes on Tefillas Mincha: 


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


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


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


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


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




20 Marcheshvan

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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Two:  Set forth below are just simple notes from the extremely moving and very heartfelt Shiur given by HaRav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg, Shlita, on Monday night in Flatbush (in English):


A. It is an ikar of life to be oleh in Ahavas Hashem.


B. Avraham Avinu’s love of Hashem was so great that the Tchebiner Rebbe, Z’tl, once remarked that the miracle that occurred when Avraham Avinu was thrown by Nimrod into the Kivshan HaEish was not how Avraham survived--but how the eish created by Avraham’s Ahavas Hashem did not burn down all of Uhr Kasdim!


C. The Ba’al HaTanya teaches that Ahavas Hashem is not something that should be far away from any of us--indeed, he writes that it is a Davar Shaveh Lechol Nefesh--something everyone can experience, and that Karov HaDavar Me’od Me’od--it is something very close to us.


D. We must always remember Hashem’s tremendous love for us--and the tremendous Nachas Ruach that Hashem has from all of our Avodas Hashem. The Navi (Yeshaya 49:3) exclaims who we are--”Yisrael Asher Becha Espa’ar--Yisrael in whom I take glory.” It is for this reason that before we recite the words V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha in Shema, we first recite Ahava Rabba…Ahavas Olam…Oheiv Amo Yisrael--all affirming our recognition of how much Hashem loves us!


E. It is only the Yetzer Hara who tries to convince us that Hashem does not have Nachas from what we do, from how we conduct ourselves, and that Hashem has teviyos--complaints against us. We must combat the Yetzer Hara by recognizing that Hashem has Simcha when He sees us do a Mitzvah---each and every time. Even if it is not perfect and we can do better--we have accomplished something. Make no mistake--Hashem knows how difficult living a Torah life is in the world around us, how great the struggle is--and how important even the ‘small’ successes are.


F. Even if one realizes that he did not daven so well, or did not listen attentively to the Shiur--he should not get down on himself. This is what the Yetzer Hara wants--he wants you to feel that Hashem is disappointed in you, and does not want you, and does not love you because of your failure or failures. Hashem does love you--no matter what you have done. He wants you to improve and be better--but the love is still there, and will always be there. HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, teaches that: “Shum Gadol Lo Nafal Min HaShomayim--no Gadol came from heaven.” Every Gadol had Nisyonos to overcome, fighting them, and becoming better and better.


G. As the Chofetz Chaim teaches: “Kamah Rauy Lismoach Simcha Atzumah Ahd Me’od Besha’ah Shelomed TorahDehu Gush Afar V’Zoche L’Dabeik B’Hakadosh Baruch Hu”--how a person must exceedingly rejoice when he learns Torah--for after all, he could be viewed as a clod of earth, but instead is zoche to cling to HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself. Oh, how Hashem treats us!


H. We have not left, and never leave, Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li. Indeed, our love for Hashem and our awareness of His love for us should be an ikar now--at the outset of the year. When we look at or kiss the Mezuzah, when we are about to don Tefillin, when we especially dress with Tzniyus…and most certainly when we recite the words of VeAhavta in Shema--should we feel and be moved by the love! Hakhel Note: Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim writes that the Mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem early in the day should be treated no differently than taking the Lulav and Esrog--and advises that just as one does not eat before taking the Lulav--he should likewise not eat each and every morning until he thinks about how--in spite of who he is and perhaps what he has done--how great Hashem is and how much Hashem loves him!


I. As we recite in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei, three times a day, the Geulah will come because Hashem is: “Mayvey Go’el Leivnei Veneihem LeMa’an Shemo B’Ahava--brings the redeemer to the children’s children of the Avos, for His Name’s sake, with love.” Love will bring the Geulah!


For a CD of the entire Shiur, please call 718-252-5274.




19 Marcheshvan

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


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


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


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



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


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


We once again provide our annual Parshas Chayei Sarah Suggestion:


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


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


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


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


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


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




18 Marcheshvan

THE SOURCE: The source for yesterday’s note on the difference between 51 and 52 is the teaching of Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, on the subject.





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


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


C. “HaRav Ovadiah Yosef, Zt’l, was well known for his superhuman Torah scholarship and diligence, and for a heart completely devoted to the needs of others, from all walks of life. A close student of his, Rabbi David Ozeri, related that when Rav Ovadiah visited New York , he stayed with the Ozeri’s in Brooklyn . Before he brought his luggage into the house, Rav Ovadiah asked to see the room in which he and his wife would be staying. Satisfied with the room, he asked his host if there was a small light that he could use for reading that would not disturb his wife while she was sleeping. Rabbi Ozeri showed him that the only personal light in the room was in a small closet. Rav Ovadiah said that light would be perfect, and asked for a chair that would fit in the closet. Fully satisfied with the room, he left and soon returned with a large sack of books, which he laid next to the chair!”




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


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


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


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


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


5. A young man who was visiting Eretz Yisrael came to the home of Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem. When the fellow entered the house, he noticed that everyone present was about to leave, including Rabbi Finkel himself. Rabbi Finkel greeted his guest, and upon finding out that he was a visitor from overseas, went into another room and took off his overcoat. When Rabbi Finkel re-entered the room, the guest told him, “If you are going somewhere, I do not want to detain you. “I was just going to the yeshiva for Ma’ariv,” replied Rabbi Finkel, but now I have a guest to entertain. As Chazal teach, that is a greater obligation than prayer.” The young fellow felt embarrassed that this elderly Rosh Hayeshiva should miss Tefillah in the yeshiva because of him, and he insisted that Rabbi Finkel go to the Yeshiva to daven. Only after the guest promised to return immediately afterward, did Rabbi Finkel consent to go to the Yeshiva to daven. (Heard from the guest, Rabbi Peretz Steinberg)



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




17 Marcheshvan

A PRE -DAVENING TEFILLAH: There is popular adage in Eretz Yisrael:  “Lifnei HaTefilah Ani Mispallel She’BeAis HaTefillah Ani Espallel!”--Before I daven, I daven that I will truly daven when I am davening! 



GREATER THAN A MALACH! In last week’s Parsha we learned that one Malach does not perform more than one (1) task. Every day--we should regale in the many Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim that we given the opportunity to perform! We--human beings--have so many more and different opportunities than the Malochim! Thank you Hashem!



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



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



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




Special Note One: How well do you know last week’s Parsha? We provide below a portion of the questions and answers on this week’s Parsha as presented in the outstanding English Sefer Torahific! By Rabbi Maimon Elbaz, Shlita:


1. Why were the three angels who visited Avraham Avinu--Michoel, Gavriel and Refoel disguised as a sailor, a baker, and an Arab? (Bereishis Rabbah 48:9, Maayanah Shel Torah)

Planet Earth is comprised of three parts: water, desert, and inhabited land. Hashem sent Avraham angels in disguise, representing each area of the world, to visit him after his Bris Milah. This implied that the whole world was made for Avraham and his descendants!


2. Which Mitzvah earns a greater reward: a) giving visitors food, b) giving them drinks, or c) escorting them as they leave? (Rambam Hilchos Eivel 14:2)

Escorting guests out, after their stay in your house, is even greater than welcoming them and serving them nourishment! People feel very important when you take your time to escort them (even if you live on an upper floor).


3. Why did Avraham not want Eliezer or Yishmael to be present at the Akeidah? (Rabbeinu Bachya, Malbim)

Avraham did not want Yishmael or Eliezer present at the actual Akeidah lest they stop him or give the mitzvah an Ayin Hara.


4. What did Avraham tell the angel at the Akeidah? (Yalkut Shimoni, Tanchuma, Pesikta)

Avraham insisted to the angel who told him not to sacrifice Yitzchak that he wanted only Hashem to so inform him. Then Hashem opened the skies and said, “I insist.” Then Avraham declared, “I want this always to be a defense for my descendants so that they may endure.” Hashem responded, “On Rosh Hashanah, let them blow the shofar made from a ram to recall this unparalleled merit so that it may atone for their sins and they will be saved.”


5. Why did the ram keep getting stuck in the tree? (Yerushalmi Taanis 2:4)

The ram kept getting its horns stuck in a tree; finally Avraham freed it. So too, the Jews have gotten stuck time after time in their different sins and their various exiles, but eventually Hashem will free them!


6. How old was Yishmael when he was banished from Avraham’s home? (Bereishis Rabbah 48:9)

Yishmael was 37 when he was expelled from Avraham’s home, Now let us, contrast our forefather with that of the Yishmaelites (Arabs), Yitzchak at 37 was being prepared to die for Hashem’s honor; Yishmael at 37 was trying to kill Yitzchak!



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



Special Note Three:   Lot accomplishes something that even Avraham  Avinu could not accomplish.  Although Avraham davened for each one of the five cities to be saved, Hashem advised him that there was an insufficient number of Tzadikim in any city for the city to be saved.  However, we find that Lot requested that he be saved in the city of Tzoar --and he was, together with the entire city!  How was Lot the recalcitrant nephew, able to save a city that his incomparable Rebbi could not?


HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, derives two essential lessons from this. 


First, we see how much more effective it is for the affected person to daven for himself than for a third party (no matter how great) to daven for him.  Here, Lot was asking for his life to be spared.  No matter how genuine and sincere the entreaties of Avraham Avinu were, nothing can match the depths of someone pleading for his own life.  No one can act on behalf of a person more than he himself can! Hakhel Note: Of course, one should always ask a Talmid Chacham to daven for him, but this cannot replace or substitute for one davening for himself.


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


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




14 Marcheshvan

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


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


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




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


A. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 100-125 women.   Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 30 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


31. What should one do in order to feed watermelon to a small child or elderly person?


According to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Zt’l, one is permitted to remove the seeds when preparing the watermelon for a small child (or for an elderly person who cannot do it himself) because it is considered as Derech Achilah--the normal manner of eating, to remove the seeds before serving the child the watermelon; however, one still needs to satisfy the other two conditions: (i) for immediate use; and (ii) by hand and not with the use of a specialized vessel.


32. If one has a piece of meat with some fat on it, is one permitted to cut off all the fat?


No, the fat is considered as unwanted, and one must remove the meat from the fat or remove the fat with some meat attached to it. However, the prohibition of borer only applies where the fat and meat are directly attached. Therefore, if there is a lot of fat on the meat, one is permitted to remove the fat until a point which is before the direct contact of the fat and the meat. In this case, one is not performing an act of borer--as he is not separating the fat from the meat--but fat from fat.


33. If there is a pile of coats and my coat is somewhere under the pile, may I remove the coats from the pile to get to mine or is it considered as taking the bad from the good?


Some Poskim are of the opinion that it is prohibited unless one basically knows where his coat is in the pile. Most poskim permit one to remove other coats to get to his, because in a situation where there is a pile of recognizable articles, it is not considered as a real mixture. This is known as mesaleik--moving something over, which is permitted and is not considered as borer. However, this still may only be done immediately before donning the coat


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


E.  Hashem praised Avrohom Avinu with the words “Ki Yedativ…for I have loved him because I know that he will command his children after him to follow in the way of Hashem performing charity and justice.”  HaRav Isser Zalmen Meltzer, Z’tl, asks how charity can come before justice.  After all, one cannot do charity with money which has not been earned justly.  Charity should not precede justice--it should succeed justice in the order of the Posuk!  HaRav Meltzer answers that sometimes Tzedaka is justice itself.  If a person is desperately in need of our assistance; if it is a matter of Pikuach Nefesh, if it is a matter of sustaining lives, then we can no longer leave it as a well meaning Chesed or extra-curricular Tzedaka activity, but must instead consider it as part and parcel of our daily requirement to act with Mishpat--of doing that which is just and proper today.  This would mean that if there is a genuine Pidyon Shevuyim call, a real Hatzolos Nefashos request, a matter of Pikuach Nefesh in the community, it is not a nice or appropriate “add-on” to a person’s day to respond in some way--it is an integral fulfillment of your “Mishpat,” your doing the right thing, your properly serving Hashem on that day!


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


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


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



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


1.  Chazal extolled the Mitzvah of Hospitality as follows:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Four: Shabbos is the Yahrzeit of the Chazon Ish, whose profound impact on our generation, especially in Eretz Yisroel continues to echo around the world.  The following thoughts of the Chazon Ish are excerpted from Divrei Siach, a beautiful compilation by Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshtaff, Shlita:


A. The Chazon Ish was asked which was a greater Mitzvah--Kavod Shabbos--or Oneg Shabbos. For instance, if one wanted to wear a tie in honor of Shabbos, but was hot or otherwise uncomfortable with it--should he wear it anyways? The Chazon Ish responded--Im Aino Oneg--Aino Kavod!


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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




13 Marcheshvan

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





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


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


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


Hakhel Note: Here is one place where you must assert your authority! As a reader suggested to us: “Hug your kids at home, and belt them in the car!”



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



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





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


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


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



A POWERFUL DAF YOMI MESSAGE: Chazal (Pesachim 117A--studied this week) teach that the term Halelukah need not only mean Haleluh-Kah (Praise Hashem), but also Haleluhu B’Hilulim Harbeh--praise Hashem with much praise! In fact, Rebbi Yehoshuah Ben Levi teaches that of the ten languages of praise used in Tehillim--Halelukah is the greatest of them all! When reciting this magnificent term each and every day in Pesukei D’Zimra--we should feel an inspired degree of exuberance and zeal!




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




12 Marcheshvan

FROM A READER: “I would like to share with your readership a practical application of a “Daily Preparation” for Shabbos Kodesh that my family has implemented over the last few months, acting on the wise counsel my wife received from Rebbetzin Koledetsky, Tichyeh, daughter of HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita:  Learn one Halacha of Hilchos Shabbos with the family at each of the three Seudos Shabbos.  Here is the implementation plan that we have successfully deployed: 1) Over the course of the week I prepare three Si’ifim (subsections of a chapter) from the Shulchan Aruch with the Mishna Berurah and selected other sources (e.g., Sefer Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa; Sefer Piskei Teshuvos) needed to understand both the fundamental bases and practical applications of that Halacha; 2) I choose Halachos across the expanse of Hilchos Shabbos that are both commonly applicable to our life situation and, heretofore, new or not well-known to us; and, 3) I present only Halachos that I feel I understand (after preparation) and can coherently explain.  As a Ba’al HaBayis with limited Yeshiva background, I can tell you that this program is not time- or labor-intensive, but exquisitely high-yield.  Thus, I enthusiastically recommend it to your readership.”


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



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



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



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




Special Note One:  HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, was meshameish his father in-law, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, for more than 50 years. HaRav Elyashiv, of course, dealt with the most difficult Shailos in the world--pikuach nefesh, ishus, ribbis…. Yet, no matter how complex the Shailah, HaRav Elyashiv was able to answer each and every one of them known to Rav Zilberstein with clarity and preciseness…except one. That one question is brought by Rav Zilberstein in his introduction to the new Sefer U’Piryo Masok, as follows:  The policy of the Kaminetz Yeshiva in Yerushalayim is not to have a ‘Bein HaZemanim’ period--so that Isru Chag Sukkos would be the beginning (or continuation) of the z’man in the Yeshiva. One year, the hanhalah of the Yeshiva approached HaRav Elyashiv, and asked him if, because the bachurim had experienced such a tiring Simchas Torah, and were so busy taking down the Yeshiva’s Sukkah well into the night, they could give the bachurim off on Isru Chag and begin the next day--even though this had not been the minhag of the Yeshiva. HaRav Elyashiv put his head into his hand and thought for a few moments--and said: “Eineni Yodeiah Mah Le’hashiv--I don’t know what to answer.” They then asked him what they should do--who they should go to. He answered that they should go to HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl. The hanhalah dutifully went to HaRav Auerbach. He also put his head into his hand and said that he did not know the answer and they should go to…HaRav Elyashiv! HaRav Zilberstein concludes that the tremendous lesson that he learned from this was how precious our learning time truly is…for it is time which can never be replaced, for eternity! 


Hakhel Suggestion: Chazal (Brachos 14A) teach that before going to sleep, one should study Torah, and also teach (Pesachim 117A) that if one wants to have good dreams he should go to sleep after having experienced a ‘simcha shel mitzvah’. Perhaps one can designate a five or ten minute specific Seder in a particular Sefer or study before going to bed--so that he culminates his waking hours and begins his sleeping hours in the greatest way possible…with precious time spent learning Torah!



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


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


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


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


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


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




11 Marcheshvan

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



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




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


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


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


C. It is not because people are impatient, or that they have no time because they must go to work. The reason people stand at a bris, writes HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, in his Siddur, is because everyone (aside from the sandek) must stand for the sake of the Mitzvah. In fact, one who encounters others on the way to performing a Mitzvah (such as a bris) he continues, should accompany them four amos. Hakhel Note: Based upon the foregoing, it would be an interesting question when one sees the kvater walking the baby in for the milah, as to whether he should escort him for at least four amos!


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

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



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


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


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


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


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


Related Note:  We had once received the following moving thoughts from a reader:   “When we speak about Rochel Imeinu, we say, ‘Kol B’ramah Nishma...Rochel Mivaka Al Baneha Ki Einenu...--a voice is heard on high...Rochel is crying about her children....’ The question is why is the term ‘mivaka--used?! Should not the Pasuk simply say: ‘Rochel Bocha--Rochel is crying’ because she is constantly crying for us to come out of Galus!  The answer could be that mivaka means that Rochel Imeinu is crying intensely hard--because we are not crying!  She is trying to get us to cry out of the pain of Galus because we seem to forget where we are.  What we have to do now is cry out to Hashem and beg and plead for Him to take us out!  Rochel wants us to cry, to feel uncomfortable in Galus.  If we don’t feel like we are in Galus and we don’t cry out to Hashem, then why should He take us out altogether?!  If we are fine where we are, then why should anything change?  The only way to get out is by asking for.  If Rochel is crying for us on High (as we know that Hashem says that her tears are going to bring the Geulah)-we must follow her-and take out our Siddur or Sefer Tehillim or use our own words to BEG Hashem to bring us out of Galus!  And THEN Hashem will be able to tell Rochel Imeinu, ‘Minee Koleich Mibechee V’einayich Midim’ah,’--Rochel, you can stop crying, because ‘V’shavu Banim Ligevulam,’ Bnei Yisrael will return to their boundaries.  May we all have the zechus to see these very words come true!” 




10 Marcheshvan

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


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



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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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




7 Marcheshvan

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



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



FROM A READER: Concerning Suggestion #1 under “One Less Habit,” it is very difficult for many individuals rushing from Shacharis to their daily tasks (e.g., breakfast, commuting, work, Kollel) to recite the Yud Gimel Ikarim (“Ani Ma’amins”) following Shacharis, and certainly, to recite these with Kavana.  The challenge escalates with the late Zmanei Tefilla associated with the fall and winter seasons.  Yet, the lessons of the Yud Gimel Ikarim are so fundamental to one’s daily life as a Jew.  I humbly offer the following suggestion that has, over time, fortified my Emuna: Recite the Ani Ma’amins with deliberation prior to Shacharis (after Birchos HaShachar) rather than thereafter.  In this fashion, one’s Tefilla can reinforce the Emuna teachings therein.  Indeed, this is the time-honored Minhag of Chassidei Lita (see Sefer Mishmeres Shalom 8,10).



WONDROUS! In the Orchos Chaim L’Rosh, Siman 26, the Rosh teaches: “LeHa’amin B’Hashgachaso HaPratis--to believe Hashem’s personal supervision over us. The Tosfos Yom Tov in his explanation of the Orchos Chaim writes that this means we are to understand that all events, whether large or small, important or seemingly unimportant are all based upon Hashgachaso HaNefleis--His wondrous Presence. Especially in these trying Chevlei Moshiach times, we must strengthen our Emunah on a daily basis--either by studying Emunah-based works, or by listening to Shiurim in Emunah. We once again highly recommend the Emuna Daily, a 3-5 minute daily phone message which one can call at any time during the day for no charge. The number is 605-475-4799. The pin number is 840886#. To listen to today’s Shiur, one need only hit # again. To listen to all of the prior wonderful Shiurim (now more than 100 on file), begin with the number 1…and keep on going! Yasher Koach to Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, for these wonderful Shiurim!



ANOTHER PRE -TORAH STUDY SUGGESTION: One can outwardly manifest his joy in being given the opportunity to study Torah by--prior to beginning one’s studies--singing or humming “Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu U’Mah Na’im Goraleinu…--how fortunate we are to have the Torah as our portion, as our lot…!”



WHAT IS THE BRACHA ON ESROG JELLY? This is a timely question for those who have made esrog jelly, or those who have purchased it. “The The Laws of Brachos (by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita, Artscroll) writes as follows:  Unlike other fruits, whose inner fruit is eaten while the rind is discarded, the thick esrog rind is the primary portion of  the fruit. Therefore, the proper brachos for an esrog are follows: (a) Esrog preserves:  One who eats esrog preserves or jam (which contains esrog solids) recites a Ha’eitz regardless of whether he eats the fruit itself or the thick rind; (b) the outer peel: the thin outer yellow peel of the esrog is similar to other fruit peels. One who eats it alone, even if it is preserved and sweetened, recites a Shehakol; (c) raw esrog rind: an esrog rind is not usually eaten raw and therefore requires only a Shehakol when eaten raw.”



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



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



GUF KADOSH! One may mistakenly believe that it is the Neshama within him that represents his Kedusha, and that his body is only a mere physical manifestation of himself in Olam Hazeh. In this week’s Parsha Rashi teaches us otherwise: When Sara Imeinu talked to Hagar about marrying Avraham--Rashi (16:3) brings that Sara Imeinu told her: ‘How fortunate you are to be associated with a Guf Kadosh Kazeh--such a holy body--and this was even before Avraham Avinu had a bris milah!” Let us take a step back. Chazal teach, Chayav Adam Lomar:Masai Yagiyah Maasai LeMa’asei Avosai, LeMa’asei Avraham, Yitzchak V’Yaakov--A person is obligated to say:  “When will my actions reach [or at least touch] the deeds of my fathers, Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov?” Accordingly, we too must strive for a Guf Kadosh. How can we attain it? We may suggest that by one putting his Guf to the service of his Neshama throughout the day--his body takes on Kedusha from the Neshama…and becomes a Guf Kadosh! Hakhel Note: Perhaps one of the most famous thoughts on the Parsha is “ Lech Lecha MaiArtzecha--go for your own benefit out of your connections from the Artzecha--the Chumriyus of this world.”  Avraham Avinu recognized this as a real task in life, and this helped propel him to greatness. 




Special Note One:  We conclude today a series on being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos, as culled from the Sefer Ketzais Hashemesh Bigvuraso, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. 




A. Rebbi Hillel Lichtenstein, Z’tl, known as R’ Hillel Kilemayar, was once up late Leil Shabbos studying Parshas HaShavuah. He heard a noise near the window and stunningly found that a ganav  had entered his home and had silver candlesticks and other items in his hand and was about to exit. R’ Hillel said to him--how could you do this--you can’t carry on Shabbos, and the candlesticks are Muktzah?! In any event, the Torah prohibits you from stealing…and what about the agmas nefesh you will cause to the Rebbetzin on Shabbos itself?! If you are hungry and need to eat, come and I will give you delicious Shabbos food. The ganav laughed and slipped out the window. A little while later, the Rav heard a commotion outside. A policeman had caught the thief and was taking him to the police station. The Rav approached the policeman and told him not to take the thief away--as all the articles were formerly his and he had given them as a present to the thief. The policeman did not listen to the entreaties of the Rav, and took him to the police station--with the Rav accompanying them. At the police station, the Rav prevailed--and the ganav was released! The sinner then fell upon the Rav--asking him for forgiveness. The Rav invited him to his house for the remainder of Shabbos, where he became a new man--and a true Ba’al Teshuvah!


B. HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, in the Michtav MeiEliyahu ( 1:40 ) teaches how he once saw a pack of wolves roving for food. They came upon the carcass of a small animal. The wolves began to fight violently among themselves--hurting, injuring and killing each other over the carcass. Only a few of the more powerful wolves were left at the end--and they too began to fight each other to the end--until one grabbed the carcass and ran. HaRav Dessler observed that all along the ‘victor’s’ path he saw a trail of blood from its wounds. Then, continues Rav Dessler, he looked back at those who were mortally wounded and those that looked like they were about to depart this world, and lamented: ‘These are the bitter results of those who decide not to give-in, but to fight and fight until the bitter end.’ There really is not even one winner!


C. There is a wonderful similarity between the word teivah--ark and the same word teivah--word. Just as the teivah protected those inside from the mabul, so too, does one who holds onto the teivah--to his word and does-not utter a response even though he very much wants to--will be protected from calamity and harm--and will save himself for a new and brighter future!



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


A. If one has dirt or pebbles in his shoe on Shabbos, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach rules that one should empty them first and not walk into the Reshus HaRabbim with them. However, if one has dirt or mud stuck on his shoes or clothing, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is batel to the beged (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 301, Dirshu Note 16).


B. Rebbi Akiva Eiger, Z’tl, rules that a man who is a Ba’al Nefesh should not go out on Shabbos wearing a ring (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 38). As far as wearing a watch, there is Machlokes Haposkim as to whether it is considered a malbush. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, writes that it is befitting for a Ben Torah and Yirei Shomayim to be machmir and not go out with it (ibid., Dirshu Note 33).


C. If one is used to taking off his glasses when walking outside, HaRav Nissim Karelitz rules that he should not go out with glasses on Shabbos. HaRav Auerbach is even unsure whether a person should walk out with glasses in the rain--as he may come to take them off in order to wipe the rain away, as the rain is blocking his vision. The Aruch HaShulchan rules that one cannot wear reading glasses out to the street, for since he does not need them to walk, the glasses becomes a masui, and wearing them may even involve a chiyuv chatas. As far as sunglasses, there are different kinds and the Sefer Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa (Chapter 18) differentiates between them. Accordingly, before walking out with sunglasses, one must seek out the Halacha in his particular situation. With respect to contact lenses, if one is unaccustomed to wearing them--he should not wear them outside on Shabbos, as he may come to take them out (ibid., Dirshu Note 31).


D. If one has not yet made Havdalah, and someone else would like to take a picture of him or tape record his voice, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and yblch’t, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rule that one cannot do so. However, if one had already done so, HaRav Auerbach rules that the tape could be used (SA, OC 299, Dirshu Note 32).


E. If one would like to do Melacha because it is after Shabbos, but has not yet made Havdalah, HaRav Auerbach rules the phrase Shavuah Tov is insufficient. Rather, one must use a term of Havdalah--such as Baruch HaMavdil Bein Kodeish L’Chol, or Boruch HaMavdil Bein HaKodesh U’Vein Hachol (ibid., Dirshu Note 34).


F. The Arizal teaches that one should not recite Viduy on Motza’ei Shabbos until after Chatzos, for the Kedusha of Shabbos remains until that time. Accordingly, although it is preferable to eat melaveh malka promptly after reciting Havdalah, if one is not that hungry or cannot otherwise do so, then he should at least endeavor to do so prior to Chatzos (SA OC 300, Dirshu Note 4).



Special Note Three: Points and pointers on this week’s Parsha--Parshas Lech Lecha: 


A.  In this week’s Parsha we find a stark contrast, as pointed out by HaRav Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his great work Growth Through Torah, as follows:


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


The message, Rabbi Pliskin teaches, is enormous for everyone!  The Torah teaches by this Pasuk that Avraham Avinu set out to get somewhere--and he arrived there.  Terach his father, however, who also set out from Ur Kasdim together with his son, did not get to Canaan, but instead stopped in Choron, “and settled there” (Bereishis 11:31).  The rest is history.  Terach died in Choron, and Avraham Avinu and his descendants have the eternal right to the land that Avraham reached--Eretz Canaan!  Avraham accepted upon himself to accomplish his goal and refused to become side tracked by the pleasures--or even the vicissitudes--of the situations around him.  To succeed in any venture, you must complete what you start.  You must be driven, and not lose sight of what you really must accomplish. In fact, Rabbi Pliskin continues,  a person should never, ever quip ‘I never finish what I start.’  Rather, a person should recognize his own importance, and move aside the deterrents (however expertly dressed up by the Yetzer Hora) in order to fully and finally realize his objective.”


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


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


C.  The Posuk teaches that Avrohom Avinu encamped to the west of the City of Ai and to the east of the City of Bais Kail .  Chazal (Sanhedrin 44B) teach that Avrohom Avinu encamped in this place in order to Daven for his descendants who he foresaw would have trouble with the people of Ai.  The lesson Chazal draw from this is that “LeOlam Yakdim Adam Tefillah LeTzara-- a person should always daven before a Tzara takes place”--with the hope that the Tefilla will void the need for the Tzara.  We note that Chazal do not distinguish between ‘sizes’ of Tzara, and that the lesson applies to Tzaros of all kinds--both large and small.  For example, as we are now in a “changing weather” season, one can certainly daven to Hashem that he not get a cold, strep, or any virus, infection, or other illness which r’l seems to be more prevalent during these times.  Nothing is too big or too small for Hashem--we should be smart enough to recognize in advance that He is the Source of Everything--that He starts and stops, brings on and withholds, weakens, invigorates and reinvigorates, and can bring on pain, adjust it, and cure it. We know to Whom to turn--let us take the lesson of Avrohom Avinu--and do what we can to help save ourselves, our people, and the world from pain and suffering, from difficulty and devastation--Tefillah is the preemptive strike that Hashem is looking for!


Hakhel Note: Once again, we can always use chizuk to remind ourselves of this essential guideline of life. Remember--the Emuna Daily line!


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


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


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


G.  At the Bris Bein HaBesarim, the Torah teaches that Avraham Avinu was commanded not to cut the birds (Bereishis 15:10 ).  Rashi there explains that this was to symbolize that no matter how downtrodden our lives may have gotten in galus, we would never be eradicated.  Rashi further explains that the birds were doves, because K’lal Yisrael are compared to doves.  What makes doves so special is that when one wing may be wounded or tired, the dove will continue to fly, utilizing its other wing.  This is the lesson we are taught--we are to persevere over the criticisms, the obstacles, the bitterness of exile.  We can do this by not giving up, not letting ourselves fall, accomplishing that one extra mitzvah, doing that one extra chesed, “praying with fire” even when tired, and not letting that meeting interfere with our regular Torah study.  With this perseverance, with this drive, we will be zoche to spread open our second wing, as we enter the Geulah and more deeply appreciate our “Kel Elyon”.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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



6 Marcheshvan

FROM A READER:  “Concerning HaRav Ovadia Yosef, Z’tl, I once witnessed the following incident when I was in Yerushalayim. I was walking past the Bet Knesset Hagadol in Yerushalayim where there was some festive event taking place in the hall, and a black BMW pulled up in front of the Bet Knesset. In the front seat was Eli Yishai, at that time the leader of Shas, and in the back seat was HaRav Ovadia with a young yeshiva bochur. HaRav Ovadia walked from the car to the hall, speaking to the yeshiva bochur, apparently in learning, while Eli Yishai trailed behind them, alone. While this may not seem like a big deal, Eli Yishai at that time was the leader of the third largest faction in the Knesset, and I am sure he had issues to discuss with HaRav Ovadia, but the Rav had other priorities!”



A MOMENT OF PREPARATION! Before partaking of any food item, may we suggest that one should look at the item and think--am I sure about the Bracha Rishona and the Bracha Achrona? With this momentary question always asked--not only will one be sure that he is reciting the proper brachos (and not c’v brachos l’vatalah), but also provides himself with a moment of pause before reciting a bracha, rather than jumping-into the bracha in a hurried fashion.  A related note follows.



ONE LESS HABIT: Clearly, one of the most serious Ruchniyus issues we face daily does not  involve our belief in Hashem nor our performance of Mitzvos, but the way in which we may perform our Mitzvos. Because there are B’H so many Mitzvos that we perform on a regular, ongoing basis, it becomes easy to fall into the rut that Yeshaya HaNavi so hurtfully criticizes (29:13): “VaTehi Yirasam Osi Mitzvas Anashim Melumada--and their fear of me is but rote or habit.” In fact, a person might nonchalantly and even with a light chuckle may comment: “Oh, I just do that out of habit.” We have two possible practical suggestions in this regard:


1. For those who recite the thirteen Ani Ma’amins daily--do not allow yourself to recite it hurriedly and without thought as to the simple meaning of the words any longer--as each one is so imbued with the Emunah we are to live on a daily basis.


2. Every day, consciously choose one action that you do out of rote--it could be one of the three Tefillos, a learning session, a bracha, Chesed to a family member, Kriyas Shema Ahl HaMittah--and make it a special and unique event!




THE MODIM MILLIONAIRE: We have so much to be thankful to Hashem for. Although one does not have the time to list the millions of items during any one Modim, perhaps one can think of one item at each Modim which really should make him happier than having a million dollars in the bank. If one has trouble focusing, he can begin with  a thought of thanks for something at the top of his head…move downwards… and then all around! We are all millionaires--each in our own special way--and to the penny!




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



Special Note Two: We continue today a series on being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos, as culled from the Sefer Ketzais Hashemesh Bigvuraso, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita.




A.  The Chida writes that perhaps the reason that being Ma’avir Ahl HaMiddos is such a powerful zechus is that one prevents a sinful retort or response which would cause Tza’ar HaShechina. Hashem, Middah K’neged Middah, then ignores the individual sins of a person which were until now causing Tza’ar HaShechina. In this regard, the Chida relates that he had heard from the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh that there was a wealthy person who was close to the government who disgraced a Talmid Chochom. The Ohr HaChaim asked the Talmid Chochom to forgive the wealthy person and make peace. The Talmid Chochom responded not to worry--as he had already done so--for any delay brings Tza’ar to the Shechinah. The Chida concludes that the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh was neheneh me’od from the Talmid Chochom’s response!


B.  The Rambam (to Avos 4:4) brings the following from a Sefer that he had studied on Middos: A chossid was asked--”What was the happiest day of your life?” He responded that: “It was the day that I was traveling on a ship, and did not have a good place to lodge on the ship. [It is unclear whether this was due to a lack of money, or because there was not room on the ship.] In fact, I was near the cargo, and near other materials that belonged to the ship. There were prominent, wealthy businessmen on board, and one of them must have seen me sleeping next to the cargo. I must have appeared so low in his eyes, that he was matil mayim upon me. When I realized what had happened, I did not yell or heap scorn upon him, nor did I even feel anger or hurt over this act. Rather, I began to rejoice with a great inner joy--that I was able to bear this true insult and act of derision without pain. The Rambam writes that there is no doubt that this person experienced a zenith of humility by his reaction.


C.  HaRav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, Z’tl, was walking to the Kosel accompanied by another Jew. An Arab storekeeper noticed them, and threw a rotten orange at them. HaRav Chaim exclaimed: “Todah Rabba!” The Arab did not understand what HaRav Chaim had shouted, and chased after them to find out. The person accompanying HaRav Chaim told him in Arabic that HaRav Chaim had said “Thank you!” The Arab was stunned and said “Thank you--for what?” HaRav Chaim responded: “Thank you for throwing an orange--and not a rock!” The Arab was embarrassed by what he had done, and from then onwards would extend a special honor to HaRav Chaim when he passed his store.


D.  The Yerushalmi (Pei’ah 8:6) brings that Rebbi Akiva was asked to become a Gabbai Tzedakah. He responded that he would ask his wife. Rebbi Akiva did--and she advised him that he should accept the appointment--on the condition that when he was shamed, disgraced and even cursed--he would accept, overlook and overcome it all!




5 Marcheshvan

A BRACHA FROM RAV VIZEL: The Hakhel Family collectively donated more than five metric tons of chickens to the Amalei Torah of Kiryat Sefer this past Yom Tov season. We provide by clicking here the heartfelt bracha we received from Rav Vizel, Shlita, of Yad Eliezer.





The Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, teaches:


A.  Since horseradish is almost always eaten to enhance other foods, it is covered by the bracha of the other food. The Poskim suggest that one not eat horseradish by itself, since there is Halachic uncertainty as to the bracha.


B.  Pita chips are Borei Minei Mezonos/Ahl HaMichya, with the following explanation: “Generally, pita chips are especially toasted to be used primarily as a snack and are therefore not classified as bread. If, however, a particular product is made from leftover pita bread, Hamotzi and bentsching is required.”


C.  A sesame bar [which we would assume would also include a sesame seed sucking candy] is Borei Pri Ha’adama/Borei Nefashos.



FROM A READER:  I would like to comment on your recent listing of piskei halacha from Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita. There are two types of piskei halacha in this section: (i) those which are opinions of Rav Chaim which do not appear in Mishna Berurah, such as whether one must stand during the recitation of a brocha over lightning or thunder, and (ii) those where Rav Chaim has a opinion which is the subject of dispute among poskim, i.e. whether to say hageshem or hagoshem. I find the first group very helpful as it gives clarification to halachos which may need clarification. However, if there is a machlokes haposkim, and the Hakhel bulletin mentions in passing that this is the opinion of Rav Chaim, it is almost as if Hakhel is promoting one opinion over another, which I do not believe is the intention of the bulletin. It can cause confusion. One who was taught to say Hagoshem with a komatz based on the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein (though he may very well not know that this is in fact  Rav Moshe’s position), and then reads the newsletter, may feel that he must change his minhag, for after all, Rav Chaim Kanievsky says it with a segol.


Hakhel Note: Thank you. We always urge our readers to consult with their Rav or Posek in respect to any final Piskei Halacha.



FROM A READER:  “For over 17 years, I was zoche to be a neighbor of Rav Ovadia Yosef, Z’tl, and would like to share the following thoughts with you:


1.  I occasionally davened together with him in his home. Once, as we waited for Chazaras Hashas (I’m Ashkenazi) to begin, I innocently took a sefer off the shelf and began to learn. I promptly received a gentle rebuke from one of the gabbaim, that the  Rav is makpid that others not to touch the sefarim because ‘not only does he know every one by heart but even the order on the bookshelf and if someone will put it back in a different spot, it will cause bittul Torah to locate it!’


2.  On Chol Hamoed, the street was closed off to allow many distinguished dignitaries or political figures to receive the Rav’s bracha. My family saw a living example of Kavod Ha Torah and learned the true meaning of Man Malchei Rabanan--who are our true kings--our Rabbanim!


3.  One of the most popular Purim items sold in stores is the ‘Rav Ovadia costume and turban’. On one occasion, I witnessed the following scene: As the Rav left his home on Purim and headed towards his car, people lined up outside in a double row and kissed the Rav’s hand as he passed by, wishing everyone a ‘Purim Samei’ach!’ Suddenly, a bachur dressed in a full Rav Ovadia garb with a camera around his neck, jumped in, blocking the path and came face to face with Rav Ovadia and asked the Rav for a picture.… HaRav Ovadia was in a festive mood and he agreed as they posed together--and then, providing a gentle lesson, told the camera toting bachur that it is not bakavodik for a Rav Roshi to be a photographer as well!....Kavod HaTorah!



WHAT WE CAN DO IN HONOR OF TORAH STUDY: HaRav Yosef was a living example of the honor of Torah study. There are many ways we too, in a simple but appreciating way, can acknowledge or at least initially demonstrate our awareness of the great opportunity that it truly is to study Torah. We have mentioned these thoughts at various times in the past, and invite your thoughts as well:


1.  Kiss a Sefer before opening it, and upon closing it.


2.  Daven to Hashem before learning that He should ‘open your eyes to the Torah’s words’.


3.  State: “Hineni Rotzeh Lilmod Torah Lishma--I want to learn Torah Lishma”, to do Hashem’s Will and to give Him Nachas Ruach by knowing the Torah.


4.  Have a Hirhur Teshuvah, or recite a Pasuk relating to Yiras Shomayim before beginning to study.


5.  Put away all distractions, including distracting devices, and if possible, set a minimum goal of learning without interruption.


Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim writes that the sin of Lashon Hara is unique in that although usually the limb that sinned is the limb that is punished--when it comes to Lashon Hara, the entire body is punished for the sin, for Lashon Hara impacts upon one’s whole being. Conversely, the Chofetz Chaim continues, unlike other Mitzvos in which a particular limb may be rewarded for performing a particular Mitzvah, one’s entire body is rewarded for the study of Torah. It is for this reason that Chazal teach, if one has a headache--he should study Torah, if one’s throat hurts--he should study Torah…. Thus, through the study of Torah, the Chofetz Chaim concludes, a Ruach Kedusha descends upon the person--LeHachayoso U’Lekaymo Bazeh U’Vabah--which provides life in this world and eternity in the next!




We continue today a series on being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos, as culled from the Sefer Ketzais Hashemesh Bigvuraso, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. 




A. Chazal relate how Rebbi Eliezer walked by someone’s home, as the woman of the house was throwing her garbage out the window, and he received a direct hit on his head. Rebbi Eliezer’s response was…elation, as he recited the Pasuk: “Mei’ashpos Yarim Evyon--from the trash heaps He lifts the destitute!”


B. The Chofetz Chaim would teach his students to remember the Pasuk: “Hamakom Asher Attah Omed Alav Kodesh Hu--wherever one might be, whatever the situation, one must remember that he is in a place where he can perform a Mitzvah--and that one should not wait to put it off to a more comfortable or easier circumstance. The place, the situation, the event, in which one’s patience is being tested is most certainly holy ground!


C.  Rabbeinu Shmuel HaNagid was once walking with the Caliph of Spain.  A non-Jew suddenly appeared and began to hurl curses at Rabbeinu Shmuel.  The Caliph, shocked and angered, commanded Rabbeinu Shmuel to cut the offender’s tongue out.  After the incident, Rabbeinu Shmuel proceeded to send the offender gifts--until he became friendly and even grew to love Rabbeinu Shmuel.  A while later, the Caliph was once again walking with Rabbeinu Shmuel and the prior offender appeared and began to bless Rabbeinu Shmuel.  The Caliph turned to Rabbeinu Shmuel:  “Did I not order you to cut out his tongue?!”  Rabbeinu Shmuel responded:  “Caliph, I followed your orders and more--I cut out his evil tongue, and replaced it with a tongue of goodness!”  Hakhel Note:  As noted in the past, this story is also brought by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in the Sefer Orchos Yosher. HaRav Chaim concludes his relating of the story with the words of Avos D’Rebbi Nosson (Chapter 23):  Aizehu Gibor HaOseh Sono Ohavo--who is the true hero--one who turns his enemy--into his friend”.  Upon reflection, each and every one of us probably has the same opportunity as Rabbeinu Shmuel HaNagid--at least from time-to-time (perhaps some more than others)--let us do our utmost to follow the advice of Rabbeinu Shmuel HaNagid…of Avos D’Rebbi Nosson…as brought up to date by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky!


D. HaRav Elimelech M’Lizhinsk, Z’tl, was once slapped on his cheek by an enemy, and immediately responded: “That potch did not take in any way, shape or form take away or reduce the love that I have for you!”




4 Marcheshvan

FROM A READER: Rabbi Teitelbaum, Shlita, of Kew Gardens mentioned something similar to what you quoted. He said he got tremendous mussar from a woman. He was driving and using a GPS because he was going to somewhere he hadn’t been. It got him lost and a woman’s voice kept saying ‘recalculating.’ This is what we should do when we err, not just give up.



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



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




Yesterday’s stunning loss of a Gadol HaDor brings with it a further sense of a world in decline prior to the coming of Moshiach, may it be BiMeheirah V’Yameinu. At that time, we will be enlightened as to the tremendous Kapparah that HaRav Yosef’s petirah brought for K’lal Yisrael and the world--and we will properly be able to be makir tov to him then. In the meantime, our sense of loss is devastating--a world of Torah, quite literally, is missing!


Just a few brief points:


1. It is certainly no coincidence that one of yesterday’s chapters for monthly Tehillim recitation was Chapter 19, which contains the Pasuk: “Yom L’Yom Yabiah Omer V’Laylah L’Laylah Yechaveh Do’as.” HaRav Yosef is perhaps most well-known for these two Sefarim--the Yabiah Omer and the Yechaveh Do’as--monumental works for all, whether of Ashkenazi or Sefardi origin.


2. Everyone knew that HaRav Yosef had an unusually outstanding (‘photographic’) memory, and that his mind was uniquely brilliant. However, at a Shiur, HaRav Yosef once explained his own approach to the study of Torah. He quoted the Pesukim in Hallel (Tehillim 116:10-11) that we recited many times over Sukkos--”He’emanti Ki Adaber Ani Anisi Me’od Ani Amarti Vechafzi Kol Ha’adam Kozeiv. The Maharsha, he explained, interprets these Pesukim as follows: I believe a person when he says that I acquired Torah through toiling and working extremely hard at it. If, however, a person claims that he understood something quickly or with little effort-he is not telling the truth--he does not understand it. No matter how smart, how capable, how well-intentioned a person is--without toiling in Torah--even with a mind as great as his--one cannot succeed. With this p’shat of the Maharsha perhaps serving as one of his guides in life, HaRav Yosef toiled and toiled. Many may have seen the picture several months ago of Israel’s Prime Minister standing and waiting for HaRav Yosef as he was engaged in his studies and perhaps found it a bit amusing--but to HaRav Yosef, it was not amusing at all, it was the essence of his life. Hopefully, the Prime Minister walked away with the lesson of what the Chacham demonstrated takes priority over all.


Note: The story is told that HaRav Yosef, as a young bachur, climbed a ladder in order to get a Sefer that was high up on a shelf. Upon reaching the Sefer, he immediately opened it and began his studies, without even allowing himself the luxury of coming down the ladder. He became so engrossed, however, that he fell off the ladder and was hospitalized.  When the Rav of the hospital came to visit him, as he did all patients, the Rav acted differently with him.  Rather than a pleasant but quick conversation as he ‘made the rounds’, the Rav spent a long time in the room talking to the young Talmid Chochom.  When the Rav was asked why he behaved so differently here, he responded, “He told me what happened to him--I stayed, because I was hoping that what he had was contagious!”


3. As we will, and should, learn more about the greatness of HaRav Yosef in the coming days, we provide the following important instruction from Day 158 of Loving Kindness, by Rabbi Fishel Schachter, Shlita, (Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation; Artscroll) as to our initial reactions: “There are several purposes to the eulogy, and none of those purposes include impressing the audience. Primarily, the aim is to draw out the tears of those present… the words of the eulogy are meant to penetrate the heart with a sharper sense that the loss of this life, unique in the world, is their loss too. There is one less source of prayer, kindness and holiness in this world, and the Jewish people have one less source of merit. “One who cries for a loss of a good person, Hashem forgives all his sins,” says the Talmud (Shabbos 105b). These tears are so precious to Hashem that “He counts them and stores them in His hidden storehouse.” All of this applies to the loss of a person of any stature. In the case of a Torah scholar, an even greater level of care is required to make sure that the community understands and cries for the loss of one of its generation’s luminaries. Rabbi Avraham Pam, Zt’l, once described the ability of people in this world to…[provide those in the] Next World with gifts of real value. When a person says Kaddish for someone, he said, the soul of the deceased knows he has been remembered. It is like a postcard from his loved one. If people learn Mishnayos on his behalf, he feels an even stronger level of love and concern - as if he has received a letter. Best of all, said Rabbi Pam, is when one undertakes an act of kindness as a merit for the departed. That is like sending to Heaven a package filled to capacity with the kind of riches that only a soul in the World of Truth can fully enjoy.”


Hakhel Note:  If any readers have personal recollections with HaRav Yosef, please share them with us.  In the interim, we have a mission to learn from the life and teachings of a Gadol HaDor of our Dor--and to do what we can Le’ilui Nishmaso HaTehora.




3 Marcheshvan

TRY AGAIN! A Rav advised us that he saw at the bottom of a soda cap the words: “Try again!” He was moved by the phrase--for it reminded him of the teaching of Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, in Mishlei (24:16): “Sheva Yipol Tzaddik V’Kom U’Reshaim Yikashlu V’Ra’ah.” The Tzaddik falls seven times and rises, and the Rasha falls once and has ‘had it’. He explained in the name of HaRav Hutner, Z’tl, that the mark of a Tzaddik is that although he falls, he rises from the fall, but a Rasha stays down after the initial fall. In practical terms, he explained, this means that if a Rasha does not feel great success in any attempt to learn Torah, or in the performance of a particular Mitzvah, he simply gives up. Hakhel Note: We add only that the difference between trying again and giving up--is the difference, according to Shlomo HaMelech--between the Tzaddik and the Rasha! 



NEW FURNITURE: Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, recently related a story with the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl. A wealthy individual noted the Steipeler’s old and worn furnishings, and offered to provide him with new furniture. The Steipeler declined. “Rebbi, I will not reduce the Tzedakah I give, nor decrease my chesed because I am giving you new furniture--please take it!” The Steipeler asked his proposed benefactor if he would like some aspirin. “Why? I am not sick.” The Steipeler responded: “Just as you do not need the aspirin, I do not need the furniture.” Hakhel Note: Something for us to think about, each in our own way!



LOOK AROUND YOUR SEAT:  Sometimes as we are eating, we may allow the area around our place or seat to become unkempt with crumbs, overflow food, and stains of various kinds.  It is important for us to recognize that just as we should envisage ourselves in Hashem’s Presence when making a bracha (Baruch Attah Hashem), we are also in Hashem’s Presence during the time that we are eating as well.  If a major client, an in-law, or a leading personage was to come by as one was eating--how would he be sure to keep the spot?  It should not make a difference at all if they do or do not come by--one is always in Hashem’s Presence!



WHAT IS THE GOAL?  When considering a food item for purchase, some will focus on the price, others will focus on the ingredients, and yet others will study its nutritional value. We suggest that a primary consideration one should have when purchasing an item is--what is the bracha on this item, and will my family members or guests know what to make on it if I serve it or make it available to them? A heimeshe brand sells a Natural Tropical Mix (i.e., dried fruit) with the following ingredients: ‘Guava, Banana, Mango and Sulfur Dioxides’. When one notices the small pieces of dried, cut-up fruit, an untrained eye may not be able to discern what exactly he is consuming--and what the bracha would be. By considering the bracha on the product before one puts it into his shopping cart or basket, he is necessarily raising the physical to the spiritual. The thought process continues through the day in all kinds of other decisions and ways. Is one going to sleep in order to ‘rest his weary bones’ or in order to energize himself for a day of Torah, Chesed and Mitzvos tomorrow? When one takes something to ostensibly relieve pain--is it simply to relieve the painful feeling--or is it in order to be able to daven more properly or deal more patiently and calmly with others? Of course, the idea carries through in less ordinary situations--such as purchasing a computer or a car--how will it help others? How will it help me spiritually? The letter ‘I’ in English seems to represent a 1 in the middle with lines at the top and bottom--distancing the 1 from everyone else. One’s goal should quite the opposite--not to focus on how the action or decision benefits me and how I can be helped--but instead to bring Kedusha into one’s life--in all of his actions, and all of his decisions!



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  In our tefillos, we often pray: “Kadesheinu BeMitzvosecha”. What exactly are we davening for--didn’t Hashem already give us the Mitzvos, and don’t we already say: “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav” when making a bracha on a Mitzvah--what are we asking for, if we are already there?!




Special Note One:  Now that we have entered the season of Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem, we present the following Questions and Answers relating the rainy season, as excerpted from the most recent issue of Divrei Siach, which contains the rulings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshtoff, Shlita:


A.     QUESTION: If one made a bracha over lightning and/or thunder, traveled to another city where the weather was clear, and then came back the same day--would he recite a new bracha on lightning and thunder upon his return?

ANSWER: Since one had a hesech hada’as, he should recite a new bracha.


B.     QUESTION: If one already recited a Birkas HaMapil and then sees lightning or hears thunder before falling asleep, should he make a bracha?



C.     QUESTION: Should the brachos on lighting and thunder (or other Birkos HaShevach) be recite standing?

ANSWER: I have not heard that this is the Minhag.


D.     QUESTION: Can one recite a bracha over lightning and thunder seen or heard during Birkas HaMazon?

ANSWER: Only if heard bein haperakim of Birkas HaMazon.


E.      QUESTION: If one is in the middle of giving a Shiur and sees lightning or hears thunder, should he stop the Shiur in order to make a bracha?



F.      QUESTION: How does one pronounce HaGeshem--with a kamatz or a segol?

ANSWER: We pronounce it with a segol.



Special Note Two: We continue today a series on being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos, as culled from the Sefer Ketzais Hashemesh Bigvuraso, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. 




A. The rule of being Ma’avir Ahl HaMidos applies not only when one overcomes his anger--but even when one has a rightful complaint against another party--and instead withholds his claim and forgives. With this, we can understand why Hashem--Who likewise may have a rightful complaint against us, will also look-away from that complaint.


B. One can advance in being Ma’avir Ahl HaMidos in the following three stages: First, being especially humble in the presence of others, and giving others the respect due to them. Second, taking disparagement, insult, or other form of degradation or humiliation and not responding--even though one feels hurt or even angry inside. Third, forgiving the affront and uprooting any feeling of resentment or even hurt--as if it did not occur! How can one ever reach the third level? He can recognize that whatever the debasement may be--it is truly a message from Hashem, and not from the individual ‘stick’ that delivered it. Alternatively, one can view it as if one cut his own finger while cutting a piece of meat. Would the cut hand hit the hand that cut it--after all, it is the same body?! We too, are all the singular Nishmas Yisrael.


C. By clicking here we provide the Tefillah from the Sefer Orech Apayim to be recited (or at least thought about), when one is disparaged or feels hurt.


D. “It is the principle of the matter”-- should not exist in our vocabulary!




30 Tishrei

SNOOZE! This is a slang word in English which appear to contradict the first words of Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 1:1)--which begins as follows: “Yisgaber Ka’Ari La’amod Baboker LaAvodas Boroh--a person should be as strong as a lion to rise in the morning to serve his Maker.” The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan1) actually writes about excuses for not rising theYetzer Hara may suggest--and advises that one reject them all with the thought that if an earthly king was calling how speedily one would arise--and all the more so--when Hashem is calling! It would certainly therefore be a [perhaps difficult but] worthwhile avodah for one to ‘do away’ with the use of the snooze button on his alarm.  If one cannot eliminate the pleasure of the snooze all at once, perhaps he can begin by reducing a ‘double snooze’ to one, or a five minute snooze to three. All of this in preparation for and adherence to Yisgaber Ka’Ari--following the first words of Shulchan Aruch!



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



HAKARAS HATOV! Appreciating what Hashem, and others, do for us may be the ‘Middah of the Week’--as last week we learned that Adam HaRishon was a Kafui Tovah to Hashem for not recognizing the gift that Hashem had given him in a wife--and then in this week’s Parsha (Bereishis 10:5, Rashi d’h Bnei Ha’adam), we find that the Anshei Dor Haflaga showed no thanks to Hashem for sparing their ancestors, themselves and their descendents from the Mabul. Especially over Shabbos, one should be most careful to thank, appreciate and compliment all those who deserve or even perhaps deserve Hakaras HaTov for what they done for him or on his behalf! 




Special Note One:  As we conclude the week after Sukkos, we can be enthused by the words of Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to Yeshaya 60, Siman 503) who teach that in the future we will be taken by miraculous Clouds to the Bais HaMikdash every Shabbos and every Rosh Chodesh to daven, so that, for instance, we would be taken today by the miraculous Clouds to the Beis HaMikdash!  Chazal ask--but what will be if Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos? Chazal respond that we will be taken in the morning to the Bais Hamikdash in honor of Shabbos, brought home, and taken to the Bais Hamikdash again in the afternoon in honor of Rosh Chodesh!  We have a lot  to look forward to....In fact, Chazal conclude, that when Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Koheles 1:9) ‘Ma She’haya Hu She’Yiheye--that which was will be in the future’--he is referring to those Clouds [which transported our forefathers] that we will be transported in as well!



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


A.  Because it is Rosh Chodesh today, many have the custom of not cutting their hair, beard or nails despite the fact that it is Erev Shabbos. If one does not have a minhag or is unsure about it--one should consult with his Rav. One Rav advised us that he believes the Minhag is not to allow for the cutting of hair or nails today.


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


C.  As this Shabbos is also Rosh Chodesh, we add an additional food to the Shabbos meal, as a special Kavod to the Seudas Rosh Chodesh (see Mishna Berurah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 419 seif katan 2).  If one has not done so, he may do so on Motza’ei Shabbos at Melave Malka (Siddur Yaavetz, brought in the Sha’ar Hatzion, ibid., os 5).  Hakhel Note:  Some learn that one cannot properly have a Seudas Rosh Chodesh on Shabbos, nor even at the time of a Melave Malka, because it is not noticeable, and accordingly the Seudah in honor of Rosh Chodesh should be on Sunday (the second day of Marcheshvan!)--see Magen Avraham to Orach Chaim 419. 


D.  Please don’t forget to joyfully and with feeling sing Yona Matzah Vo Manoach….Ka’asher Nishbatah Ahl Mai Noach tomorrow!


E.  Now that we have our hadasim left from the dalel minim, we can fulfill the words of the Rema (SA OC 297: 4) who rules that one should put hadasim leaves into his besamim. The Mishna Berurah explains with this we do a second Mitzvah with a Mitzvah object, which shows a special regard for the first Mitzvah and is accordingly an elevated Mitzvah performance (ibid., 298 seif katan 8).


F.  The Mishna Berurah rules that one who does not benefit from the smell of the besamim, should not be the one making the bracha (ibid., seif katan 13), and also rules that individuals listening to Havadalah should not make their own bracha of Borei Minei Besamim or Borei Meorei HaAish, as they are Yotzei with the bracha of the one leading the Havdalah, and moreover, because there is a concept of BeRov Ahm Hadras Melech (ibid.). Hakhel Note: If one is unsure whether the besamim he has have a smell, or whether he will be able to smell them (i.e., his nose is stuffed), the Kaf HaChaim and HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, rule that it is permissible to test-smell them (ibid., Dirshu Note 12).


G.  One reason that we look at our nails to in order to derive benefit from the light Havdala candle so that the bracha over it can be made--is because the nails are a siman bracha--as they always grow! (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 9).  If a man is too far away from the candle to obtain benefit from it during Havdala, he should have Kavannah not to be yotzei with the one making havdalah, and instead make the bracha over the ner when he is closer to it later on.


H.  It is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to make the bracha on a ner which constitutes an avukah (a larger flame--with more than one wick). The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 8) writes that just because a candle has several wicks that extend from it, does not mean it is an avukah--unless there is wax that separates the wicks. Hakhel Note: One who intends to purchase a decorative Havdalah candle should first be sure that the two wicks extend from different places in the candle, as many of them may not--so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar of utilizing an avukah for Havdalah!



Special Note Three: We provide the following notes on the Parsha:


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


B.  The Sefer Derech Sicha, based upon the teachings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Volume 2, p. 10) explains that Noach did not daven for the people of his generation to be saved because he felt that it was only through the beneficence of Hashem that He himself would be saved, so it would be inappropriate to ask Hashem that others be saved as well.  This is similar to the concept of “Ayn Oreach Machnis Oreach--one guest should not invite another guest” on his own volition.  Nevertheless, Noach was criticized for not davening for the people.  HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, gives the explanation as to why, based upon the following incident (which we have reported in the past):  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, once related that a Karlin Chosid had the occasion to spend Shabbos in Vienna with the 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 Aroused Tefillah, Chazal teach, is greater than the tens of Mitzvos accomplished by Karbanos!  Noach may have felt that his Tefillos could not save his generation, because they would have been inadequate to save even himself.  Nevertheless, the status of man and the World at the time--and what was going to happen to them--should have in all events brought him to that special, Aroused Tefillah which may have saved the generation!


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


D.  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 [even those of non-Ashkenazic descent] 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.


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


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



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


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


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


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




29 Tishrei

Special Note One:  In honor of Rosh Chodesh tomorrow, we provide the following points and pointers relating to Hilchos Rosh Chodesh (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 217 et al.), as excerpted from the Dirshu edition of the Mishna Berurah:


A.  One should wear better clothing than usual on Rosh Chodesh.  The Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah writes that one should wear at least one article of clothing which is more chashuv.  The G’ra wore his Shabbos hat on Rosh Chodesh.  Hakhel Notes:  1. It is a ma’aleh to have special clothing for Rosh Chodesh/Chol HaMoed, as both have more Kedusha than a regular weekday as evidenced by the four aliyos read on that day, as well as the Korban/Tefillas Mussaf of the day. 2. Fascinatingly, the Karbanos for Musaf on Rosh Chodesh match exactly the Karbanos for the Musaf of the Yom Tov of Pesach and of Shavuos [two parim, one ayil, seven kevasim and one seir]. 


B.  The Mitzvah to be Marbeh B’Seudah on Rosh Chodesh applies to women equally as well, and applies to each day of Rosh Chodesh.  See Special Note Two for an important additional point relating to the Seudah. We add that the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, would drink a little wine on Rosh Chodesh, and would give the members of his household (including the women) a little wine to drink, explaining that we must honor the day--and that through drinking wine, we demonstrate that the day is a Yom Tov!


C.  The Shelah HaKadosh writes that the reason we recite Hallel on Rosh Chodesh is because Dovid HaMelech instituted it B’Ruach HaKodesh regarding Yetziyas Mitzrayim (see also Pesachim 117A). Accordingly, it is recited on all of the Moadim (all of which are Zecher L’Yetziyas Mitzrayim), and on Rosh Chodesh by and through which the Moadim are established.  Hakhel Note:  We were also of course taught the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh--HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem Rosh Chadashim--in Mitzrayim itself!


D.  Relating to Hallel:

(1) One should not repeat any Pasuk that it is not the Minhag to repeat--so that it does not appear that one is adding on to Hallel.

(2) If one is behind the tzibur, and they are reciting together either Hodu LaShem or Anah Hashem, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that one should continue where he is and not answer together with the tzibur.

(3) HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, also rules that although one is not permitted to answer Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo while reciting Hallel, he can answer “Amen”; however, if one is in the bracha after Hallel of Yehalelucha and the Shatz or someone else finishes the bracha, one should not answer “Amen”, just as one who is in the middle of the bracha of Yishtabach should not answer “Amen” to the Shatzs conclusion of the very same bracha (see Bi’ur Halacha to Orach Chaim 51:2, d’h Baruch).  However, if one completed the particular bracha of Melech Mehulal Batishbachos together with the Shatz, he does answer “Amen” over the Shatz’s bracha (ibid., Mishna Berurah, seif katan 3).


E.  Regarding Kiddush Levana, the Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 426; seif katan 4) brings the following remarkable quote from the Sefer Magid Meisharim:  “Siman Zeh Yiheyeh BeYadecha-- BaChodesh Shetevarechu Birkas HaLevana BeMotza’ei Shabbos Timtzeu Hatzlacha--Keep this as a Siman: In a month in which you recite Kiddush Levana on a Motza’ei Shabbos you will find Hatzlacha…!”



Special Note Two: As we have noted in the past, 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 tonight--but remember Ya’aleh V’Yavo!



Special Note Three:  As we study the Parshios in Bereishis, we must remind ourselves that the Torah is not, c’v, 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!




28 Tishrei

EXTREMELY SIGNIFICANT INSIGHT! Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, pointed out in the name of an Adam Gadol that for the last three thousand years Korach’s sons have been positioned at the top of Gehinom and can be heard exclaiming “Moshe Emes VeSoraso Emes…”  Imagine if they had done Teshuva not after the ground had opened--but only 10 minutes earlier--how different their position would have been for thousands of years!  Teshuva is the last thing in the world that you want to delay…!




We begin today a series on being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos, as culled from the Sefer Ketzais Hashemesh Bigvuraso, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita.


Introductory Note:  Over the Yomim Noraim, we were taught and perhaps re-taught that HaMa’avir Ahl Midosav Ma’avirin Lo Ahl Kol Pesha’av (Rosh Hashana 17A)--if one overlooks and overcomes his own Midos, then Hashem will act on a Middah K’negged Middah basis and overlook and cause the sins and punishments that the person would otherwise have been deserving of to be overlooked and overcome. In order to effectively accomplish this, one must avoid judging others and their deeds by his initial perception, reacting quickly to criticism, being exacting with others, and acting stubbornly. Instead, one must judge others favorably, react patiently, be lenient and tolerant, and be accommodating. The great importance of being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos should by no means be limited to the Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur period, but should truly be a part of our everyday life--something which we take with us in a practical way from the Yomim Noraim. After all, how many other traits or actions do you know of which Chazal can say that if you practice them--Hashem will forgive you for all of your sins--including your rebellious ones (Pesha’av)?!


We now begin Rabbi Tovalsky’s practical lessons to assist us in our great goal:




A.  Practicing being a Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos means that one is going to take emotional pain and bear it--and it is not easy (at least at the outset). When doing so, we follow in Hashem’s path--as He is a Rav Chesed--acting with abundant chesed. The Midrash teaches that one must take a lesson from Hashem—even after the Bnei Yisrael committed the heinous sin of worshipping the eigel hazahav—Hashem did not stop the mon or the be’er from continuing to feed the people!


B.  Chazal (Bava Kamma 93A) teach that one should always be from those who are chased and not those who chase--for there is no bird more pursued than the turtle dove and pigeon--and they are the only birds that are brought on the mizbeiach. Likewise, even with respect to the animal Karbanos--the ox is pursued by the lion, the goat by the leopard and the sheep by the wolf. One would think that in order to ‘beautify’ the Mitzvah, one would bring the more heroic lion, leopard or wolf on the mizbeiach--but that is not the case at all--we bring the ox, the goat and the sheep--because the ones that are pursued are the ones who are beautiful, chosen and praised by Hashem.


C.  Further, if one looks for a moment at the great personages in the Torah, he will find that Hevel was chased by Kayin, Noach by the people of his generation, Avraham by Nimrod, Yitzchak by the Plishtim, Yaakov by Eisav, Yosef by his brothers, Moshe by Paroh, Dovid by Shaul, and K’lal Yisrael by the nations of the world--and in each and every one of these examples, Hashem chose the one who was chased!


D.  Just as an example—let us see how Yitzchak treated Avimelech the king of the Plishtim after Avimelech jealously banished him from his land--he greeted Avimelech and his entourage B’sever Panim Yafos and actually made them a mishteh-- party. This is to further teach us that rather than repay bad with evil, one can demonstrate how he can overcome his Midos by repaying bad—with good!


E.  Chazal teach that one who is degraded and insulted and even cursed at and remains silent is called a chosid—and that is the reason that Dovid could refer to himself as a chosid--and actually davened to Hashem to protect him with the words Shomra Nafshi Ki Chosid Ani (Tehillim 86:2). 


F.  Indeed, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (25:22): “Im Ra’eiv Sonacha Ha’achileihu Lachem Ve’im Tzamei Hashkeihu Mayim.” The best way to treat one who is acting towards you in an antagonistic fashion—even to the point where he can be called your Sonei [Hakhel Note:..and certainly to a family member], is to give him bread—to do good to him or for him. If one can train himself to do react in this fashion--one situation at a time, the Rabbeinu Yonah says that it is a Pesach Tikvah Nichbad Me’od—a great source for future success in all of life.


G.  Based upon the Pasuk of VeOhavav Ketzeis Hashemesh Bigvuraso (Shoftim 5: 31), Chazal compare the person who is insulted and does not insult, who hears disparagement and does not disparage, to the sun as it goes out to shine for the day. What is the comparison? Chazal teach that the moon complained to Hashem that it could not serve together with the sun as a co-equal. The result was that Hashem told the moon to becomes smaller—and the sun which was complained against, but did not complain... remained in its original strength! 


H.  The Arizal would instruct that the choicest method to eradicate sins is accomplished by one patiently accepting insults and disgrace—and that it is more effective even than lashes and physical pain and suffering. The Shelah HaKadosh actually writes that one should feel happier when disparaged than when eating the greatest delicacy, because of its great and far reaching benefits.


I.  HaRav Yitzchak Blazer, Z’tl, teaches that the language of Hama’avir Ahl Midosav, which is in the plural, indicates that when one is successful in being a Ma’avir Ahl Midosav, he will also along with it be repairing his other Midos as well.


J.  The Chofetz Chaim reminds us that just as Dovid HaMelech realized that Shimi Ben Geira’s curse was from Hashem, and was not Shimi’s personal doing, we must realize that when we feel personal affront or hurt, it is BeHashgacha Pratis—and if it was not from this person, it would have been from another. The dog thinks that it is the stick that is hurting him, and not the man holding the stick—we should not think in this fashion.


K.  In order to appreciate how especially important the concept of Hama’avir Ahl Midosav is, HaRav Yitzchak Wallstein, Z’tl, of Novordik told others that one of his Kabalos was to learn for ten minutes a day the Ma’amar Chazal of…Hama’avir Ahl Midosav Ma’avirin Lo Ahl Kol Pesha’av. Even if we cannot review the ma’amar for ten minutes a day—perhaps we can practice it three times a day!




27 Tishrei



1. I heard HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, teach on a tape: “When people say they have no strength for something almost always it is because of a lack of Simcha.”


2. I read the following very meaningful words in What the Angel Taught You, by HaRav Noah Weinberg, and Rabbi Yaakov Salomon: “The body is the servant; it fulfills the soul’s tasks. The mind is like a computer relay station-it services whoever is pushing the buttons. The key is making sure that the soul is always in charge. How? By distancing yourself mentally from what your body wants and empowering your speech patterns to reflect the reality of your needs. For instance, do not think, “I am thirsty.” Rather, think, “My body needs some water.” Do not think, “I am tired.” Instead, think, “My body needs sleep.” Make statements--verbally and mentally--that clearly differentiate yourself from your body. Your body is not you…it is only a part of you.”


Hakhel Note: Thank you for sharing these important teachings with us!





1.  On Simchas Torah, we sang Ain Segulah KaTorah--there is no Segulah like the Torah. HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita teaches that this is not merely a beautiful song but is to be taken quite literally. If one improves in some way in his actual Torah study--it is simply incomparable to one who reads a parsha off of a klaf daily or a perek of something daily or weekly--as his ‘segulah’.


2.  On the presentation known as Maseches Chaim--on the life of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl one could hear the bracha he gave someone as Bracha VeHatzlacha B’Chol Inyanim. We should think about a meaningful bracha to give to others as a matter of course when we take leave of them--HaRav Elyashiv’s bracha is a wonderful place to start!


3.  How careful we were on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to speak the Emes--let us take this deep regard for truth with us throughout the year!


4.  Is it too difficult for one to take upon himself to consciously give two compliments a day?


5.  As noted during the Yomim Noraim period, HaRav Eliezer Ginsburg, Shlita teaches that an excellent way to begin the Teshuva process is for one to close his eyes for a few moments and begin to think. This wonderful idea need not be relegated to the Yomim Noraim period--we can--and should--do it every day--Teshuva Bechol Yom! 


In all events, 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!


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