Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Gemach List

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings


Audio-Visual Resources


Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



7 Marcheshvan

REMINDER-- THE BRACHA ON ESROG JELLY: By now, many have taken hold of their precious Esrogim with the hope of internalizing them: “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 Parashas Lech Lecha when we learn of Avrohom Avinu and his deeds, the world is in a state of confusion and disturbance.  With Parashas Lech Lecha, the chesed of Avrohom Avinu is aroused, and yeshuos begin to occur....  May we experience and see them all around us!



CARRY IT WITH YOU! In this week’s Parasha, 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 Parasha, 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 Parasha 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 continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. 


A. For those who experienced the inspiration of The Shabbos Project last week--don’t let it wane this Shabbos even if you no longer have less educated guests in your home or at the table. Share your happy and inspired feelings with family and friends, and make the pleasant effort to experience the Ma’ain Olam Haba of Shabbos--uplifting splendid gashmiyus to joyful and supernal ruchnius!


B.  Most certainly, the Shabbos table is an essential portion of the Shabbos experience. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita reminds everyone that with new discoveries weekly in the area of technology, one may get quickly involved in a discussion around the table of this new App or that new App--and how to obtain and use it.  Notwithstanding its importance or value, one must be very careful to ensure that not only is the table Lashon Hora free--but free of discussions relating to actions which involve melacha or which one cannot be performed on Shabbos itself--or are simply not within the  ruach of your Shabbos Kodesh!


C.  As the year is ahead of us, we must be careful not to fall back into unthinking habits and old ways--especially as they relate to our hanhagos on Shabbos .  We provide below some instructive thoughts on weekly Shabbos occurrences that we may take for granted:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Two: Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha--Parashas Lech Lecha: 


A. Chazal (Avodah Zara 9A) teach that this world will exist for 6,000 years--with the middle 2,000 being described as “Torah,” and the final 2,000 being described as “Yemos HaMoshiach.”  Fascinatingly, Chazal teach that the middle 2,000 years of Torah began at the time of “Ve’Es HaNefesh Asher Asu BeCharan--at the time that 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!


B.  The Posuk teaches that Avrohom Avinu encamped to the west of the City of Ai and to the east of the City of Bais Kail.  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


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


D.  Chazal teach that Avraham Avinu consulted with Aner, Eshkol, and Mamrei, relating to the Mitzvah of Bris Milah that Hashem had given him.  What was there to consult about? Why did Avrohom Avinu need an eitzah from the Bnei Cham living around him, if Hashem had given him this great Mitzvah?  Hint:  See Bereishis Rabba, and the Sifsei Chachamim, actually found at the outset of next week’s Parasha, 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.


E.  The term “Kel Elyon” uniquely appears four times in this past week’s Parasha (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, 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! 


F. 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 Three:   As in this Parasha Avram becomes Avraham Avinu--the first of our Avos, we should dedicate a few minutes to reviewing our Kavannah in the first bracha (we have tried to help a bit this week). The Sefer Praying with Fire provides a practical introduction and explanation to the bracha which we can all review, and which we highly recommend. At this time, we present two simple questions:


1.  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!


2.  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!



Special Note Four:  Reminder once more!: At the outset of this week’s Parasha, 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!



Special Note Five: As referenced above, Chazal teach Chayav Adam Lomar:Masai Yagiyah Maasai LeMa’asei Avosai, LeMa’asei Avraham, Yitzchak V’Yaakov.  It is reported that HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl would repeat this Ma’amar Chazal on a daily basis.  As you study or review the Parasha this week--consider the specific Ma’asim of Avraham Avinu that you yourself can learn from and aspire to.  Perhaps before or after Shabbos you can make a list to keep handy--after all isn’t Sefer Bereishis called the Sefer Hayashar for us to practically learn from?! We hope to supply you with our Ma’asei Avos list from the Parasha early next week. We look forward to your additions!




6 Marcheshvan

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.



REMINDER! Tomorrow, 7 Marcheshvan, is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Meir Shapiro, Z’tl, R’ Yehuda Meir ben R’Yaakov Shimshon.  We therefore once again 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.



TOMORROW 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.



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




Special Note One:  We provide the following additional thoughts on the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei:


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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



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






I am looking to purchase mezuzos for my new home. While I am prepared to pay top dollar for them, I’d like to know if I really need expensive mezuzos for such doors as the garage, laundry room, porch, etc.?





For a doorway whose requirement of a mezuzah is a full-fledged Torah obligation, it is indeed proper to spend the money necessary to purchase a more mehudar mezuzah. However, many doorways in today’s homes are not clear Torah obligations, but rather a subject of dispute among the poskim. Many factors can be involved in assessing the level of obligation, such as:


·        Does the doorway have a door?

·        Is the room actually 4 x 4 amos, or just a total of 16 square amos (i.e., 8 x 2 cubits)?

·        Does the doorway lead to a garden or porch?

·        Does the garden have an exit to the reshus harabbim (public property)?

·        Does the porch have a roof?

·        Are you the homeowner or a renter?


These are just a small sampling of issues which may limit the obligation. In a situation where one needs a mezuzah on a particular doorway only according to some opinions, or the obligation is “only” Rabbinic (d’Rabbanan), there may well be a basis for buying a less expensive mezuzah.


A Rav who is thoroughly knowledgeable in these halachos should be consulted to determine the doorway’s level of obligation. (One should also ask the Rav for advice as to what level of mezuzah should be purchased based on one’s financial situation.)


It should be noted that even when purchasing a less expensive mezuzah for such a doorway, one should compromise only on the beauty of the writing. However, a mezuzah written by a sofer who is an ignoramus (am ha’aretz) or severely lacking in Yiras Shamayim (fear of G-d) should NEVER be purchased.




5 Marcheshvan

CONTINUE TO DAVEN FOR YERUSHALAYIM!  Every Leil Shabbos we exclaim that Hashem is ‘Pores Sukkas Shalom Oleinu V’al Kol Yisrael V’al Yerushalayim”. We urge you to daven for our brothers in Yerushalayim--so that when you recite this bracha this coming Friday night--it is truly with dedicated preparation and earnestness!  Once again, please have Kavannah in the Bracha of Sim Shalom--and recite additional Tehillim for Yerushalayim--at this crucial time!



LANDMARKS!  By clicking here we provide the sample landmarks in Shemone Esrei which we had accumulated over several days.  We encourage you to review, share with others--and contribute your additional thoughts and ideas to us!



NACH YOMI. The annual cycle of Nach Yomi begins Sefer Shoftim today. To those who completed Sefer Yehoshua yesterday--Mazal Tov!  To those who wish to start Sefer Shoftim, today is a great opportunity to begin, together with so many others!


Hakhel Note:  We once again provide the opportunity to view and print a concise Hebrew calendar which contains the 5775 daily Nach Yomi, Mishna Yomis, Daf Yomi and Halacha Yomis.  Please click here  Spread this wealth of information to others!



THIS FRIDAY! Friday 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.



PERSONAL ALIYAH! As we all know, while the internet can be an incredible tool in Avodas Hashem, it is truth-be-told fraught with dangers, and the Yetzer Hora acts in ways we sometimes are astonished by. As a symbol of personal caution and awareness, may we suggest that before any entry onto the internet, you recite a Kepitel of Tehillim.  Our additional suggestion is that you simply not recite a Kepitel that you know by heart (such as 121 or 130), but that you have a Sefer Tehillim next to your computer and start with Chapter 1--advancing one-by-one every time you are about to use the internet for even the most legitimate of purposes. You will quickly be able to monitor how often you use the internet, and this may allow you to curb the unnecessary times a day you go to even “kosher sites”.  In addition--you have created the opportunity to recite more and more Tehillim! Of course, those who are working for an employer may not be able or even allowed to do this as part of their work-time, but perhaps they may think of an alternative idea to demonstrate to the Yetzer Hora that they  intend to fight him tooth-and-nail  in each and every battle!


Related Note: We remind our readers that in the Sefer Karyana D’Igarta (I, p.22), the Steipler Gaon, Z’tl writes that when one is ‘betokef taavaso’--at the height of his desire--and overcomes it because he knows the Torah proscribes the desire, then an ‘ohr kedusha norah v’ayom she’ein lesha’air--an awesome and immeasurable light’ will rest upon him. What more need be said--if one can control himself in this way at these moments of nisayon, imagine the kedusha he brings upon himself daily, weekly and over a lifetime!



Special Note One:  Geshmak!  A reader suggested that if one wants to improve his learning, then perhaps more than increasing the quantity or even amount of time of one’s learning--it is more important to learn with more geshmak--more of a sense that this is what one really wants to do (not just something that one feels that he must do)--and with true happiness and joy for the privilege and the merit. One way to accomplish this is by studying something that one really has a tendency towards, or by studying something in greater depth trying to understand it very well and perhaps coming up with new ideas, and questions and ideas to discuss with others (including one’s Rav or teacher). Learning is far from a burden or requirement--it is a person’s nourishment and essence in its most elevated form.  Rather than coming late, shaking one’s legs, finding excuses for why one cannot attend--one should really run after the opportunity as Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 119:59) exclaims “Chishavti Derachai V’Ashiva Raglai El Eidosecha”--I thought about all I had to do as king, all of my plans, all of my meetings…and still ended up in the most important place--the Beis HaMidrash!



Special Note Two:  Whom did Moshe Rabeinu first give his Brachos to in V’Zos HaBracha? No, they were not given in birth order. The first two Brachos were actually given to Reuven and to Yehuda.  Rashi (Devorim 33:7) explains that Yehuda’s Brachos are juxtaposed with Reuven’s because both Reuven and Yehuda admitted to the errors of their ways--and did Teshuvah. The lesson to us should be clear--who is first in line for Brachos--those that do Teshuvah!  Let’s get going--on a daily basis!



Special Note Three: Have you ever been in close proximity to a ‘tattoo’ decorated on a person? What is the person really thinking--that the relationship described, or that the symbol tattooed, will be imprinted upon him forever and ever?  Perhaps to the person who has done so--this is forever--as his entire life is Olam Hazeh, this world. What lesson can we take from this sorry soul?  We may suggest that just as he wants to leave an indelible impression upon his body for all of his Olam Hazeh--we must strive to leave a permanent appropriate impression upon our souls for Olam Haba.  A tattoo to them--is a Mitzvah to us.  An act of Shemiras Einayim, special words of compliment, a private Chesed, a heartfelt Kepitel of Tehillim for another member of Klal Yisroel whom you do not even know, spending a few minutes after a Shiur or one’s studies to review and focus upon something one has just learned, being one of the first ten to come to davening or the Beis HaMidrash, reciting the words “Shivisi Hashem Lenegdi Somid” before making a bracha over food….these are the true tattoos--the tattoos of the soul!  We must always remember the words recited at a Siyum, “Shehaym Rotzim V’Onu Rotzim”--they run, and we run.  They run until their Olem Hazeh ends, and we run to the eternal life of Olam Haba!  Indeed, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, especially teaches: “Kasvem Al Luach Libecha”--write them not on your arm, or your leg, or your face--but on the slate of your heart!



Special Note Four: As this week we begin our cherished encounter with the Avos, it is a time to re-energize ourselves on the first bracha of Shemone Esrei--Birchas Avos.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 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 Chayim 113) that the exact number of words of this bracha is 42 (obviously corresponding to the 42-letter name of Hashem referred to in Kiddushin 71A--which is also strongly alluded to in the 42 words of the ‘Anna BeChoach’ tefillah recited near the culmination of Karbanos and immediately before greeting Shabbos at Lecha Dodi--in fact, this allusion to the name of Hashem may be the reason that Ana BeChoach concludes with Baruch Shem Kevod). Let us focus-- 42 words corresponding to the 42 letters--we must appreciate the weightiness of each word, for if one letter is missing, the name is not fully complete!


Three 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 ideas:(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 one’s goal to bring the brachos from the heavens above down to the world below.


2.  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!


3.  What does the term ‘Zocher Chasdei Avos’ mean--what Chesed is Hashem remembering--the Chesed that Hashem promised that He would do for the Avos and their children--or, to the contrary, is He remembering the ‘Chesed’ not that He performed, but that our *Avos performed* in making Hashem’s Name [see reference to 42 letter name of Hashem within the bracha mentioned earlier] known in the world, or 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 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 analysis, we can see how multi-faceted, how broad and penetrating, these holy words are--how careful we should be in their recitation ....!




4 Marcheshvan

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



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.



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



SHA’ ALU SHELOM YERUSHALAYIM! Dovid HaMelech exclaims these words (Tehillim 122:6), teaching us that we have an affirmative duty to pray for the peace of Yerushalayim. At this time of reckless and hate-filled terror in the city of peace--let us individually and collectively beseech Hashem for the Shalom of Yerushalayim and each and every one of our brothers therein. Remember--it is only Hashem who can provide us with Shalom B’chol Eis U’Vchol Sha’ah. The current situation is not simply a job for special police forces or elite army units. It is our job--with sincere and heartfelt prayers in the bracha of Shalom, and in our meaningful recitation of Tehillim. PLEASE do your part!



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


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


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


3.  Where do we find an easy opportunity to be blessed?  HaRav Miller: “Bless your fellow Jews and you will be blessed.  It doesn’t cost you a penny.  And it is such a good investment that you’re promised a bracha[ Hakhel Note:--This week’s Parasha--V’avarecha Mevarechecha.]  It seems so wild, so insane to lose the opportunity to bless your fellow Jew.  (Tape #93, Ten Easy Ways to Gain Real Wealth)


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


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



Special Note Two: A senior Rav recently provided the following extremely practical teaching:


Our natural tendency is one of self-centeredness.  When someone shows you an old class picture--what is the first thing that you look for--most likely, if you are in the picture, and how you look.


Because of this tendency, we also tend to look at the good that we do, and we lean towards finding fault with the words and actions of others, and not with our own.  We must take some action to look more favorably upon others--viewing them with the same good eye that we view ourselves.  It sounds easier than it is-- but nevertheless can, in fact, be accomplished in a practical and goal-oriented way.


Here is a plan.


Every day, six days a week, write down two things that you saw someone else do that day that was really nice, really thoughtful, admirable, or the like. You don’t even have to know the person-- a courteous driver, a helpful store worker, a family member who acceded to your request, someone davening with fervor, someone who didn’t get angry when you expected it.... Write the two acts down every day--and review all of them every Shabbos. At the end of the month you will have about 50 actions in which you saw the good in others, and after two months--about 100.  Share your experiences with others (maybe they can join you in this goal).  You will develop a more considerate, see-the good in others, and care-for-others person.


What a warm and special goal as we proceed into the heart of the New Year!


3 Marcheshvan

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!



REMINDER--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 once again 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? When one notices, for example, 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 : Chazal teach that some of the hot underground springs that came to the fore at the time of the Mabul were not closed--and after the flood, now provide therapeutic benefits to us. Many of these ‘hot springs’ are world renowned. Why would the world benefit for thousands of years thereafter from the punishment of the Dor HaMabul?




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. Of course, one should ask his own Rav or Posek in his particular circumstance or situation for a final p’sak:


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 recite 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 recited 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. [This is, of course, a Machlokes Haposkim. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, rules that a kamatz should be used--and it should be pronounced HaGahshem]



Special Note Two: Today, we conclude our sample Shemone Esrei “landmarks”. We are up to the bracha of Shema Koleinu:


In the bracha of “Shema Koleinu”--one should stop for a moment each time the word “Racheim” or “Rachamim” is mentioned--mentally pleading with Hashem to grant the requests we have made in our Tefillos with Rachamim. In Nusach Ashkenaz, the Lashon of Rachamim occurs three times, in Nusach Sefard--Rachamim is requested four times within the bracha. This gives us an important indication of how essential it is to ask Hashem for His mercy in listening to our prayers and granting our requests!


In the bracha of “Retzei”--when reciting the words “Vehasheiv Es Ha’avodah LiDvir Veisecha”--remember that the Devir is the Kodesh HaKedoshim itself--how can we live in a world that is devoid of its holiest place?! Hashem--please, please, bring it back to us!


In the bracha of “Modim”--when reciting the words “Ve’al Nisecha Shebichol Yom Imanu”, recall that this refers to the daily miracles that each person experiences individually. Think about at least one (there are so many!) that occurred to you since the last Shemone Esrei (yes, it can be something physical or monetary)--and thank Hashem for it!


In the bracha of “Shalom” (Sim Shalom/Shalom Rav)--when reciting the word “Shalom”--one of the numerous times it is requested in the bracha, think about a separate area of Shalom that you really need (Shalom Bayis, Shalom at work, Shalom with a neighbor or acquaintance…Shalom in Eretz Yisrael) and ask Hashem to bless you with it!


We hope that our suggestions have been useful to you. Once again, please feel free to provide us with any additional insights and suggestions in landmarks in Shemone Esrei and Tefillah!



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






Does a laundry room which is larger than 4 x 4 amos require a mezuzah?







Does my garage require a mezuzah?



Yes. As far as a bracha is concerned, though, the determining factor is the location of the garage. If it is adjoining or part of the house, such that one can exit the car and walk through a door into the house without leaving the garage, all agree that a bracha is recited. If, however, the garage is not adjoining or part of the house – nor encircled by a gate which encompasses both it and the house – some say that no bracha is recited.




I am a partner in an accounting firm. Must I affix mezuzos to the doorways in the office?



If your other partners are Jews, mezuzos should be put up without reciting a bracha. (This assumes that you do not sleep there at night.)


Even if most of your partners are gentiles, as long as there is no reason to suspect that they will (physically) treat the mezuzah with disrespect, nor that it will lead to ill-feeling or cause you tzaros, mezuzos should be affixed without a berachah. If, however, there is reason for concern about any of any of the above, no mezuzah need be affixed.




We have a gentile live-in maid who has been with us since we built our house. She has her own room in the basement, and no one from our family ever walks in there. It never dawned on me to put a mezuzah on her door. A visitor to our house recently commented that the room does, in fact, require a mezuzah. Is he correct?




While some poskim rule that no mezuzah is required, most poskim are of the opinion that a mezuzah must be affixed. Hence, a bracha may be recited.


30 Tishrei

PARASHA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  If we can interpret Noach’s status both Leshevach (in a positive way) and LiG’nai (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 learn 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 Parasha (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 have done for you or on your 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, 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 (as it does tomorrow)? 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. As we have noted in the past, 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 itself (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 Shabbos!


C. As 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 sing Yona Matzah Vo Manoach….Ka’asher Nishbatah Ahl Mai Noach with feeling tomorrow!


E. Now that we have our hadasim left from the daled 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 is an elevated Mitzvah performance (ibid., 298 seif katan 8). The Mishna Berurah also adds 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 concludes 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, the Kaf HaChaim and HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, rule that it is permissible to test-smell them (ibid., Dirshu Note 12).


F. One reason that we look at our nails in order to derive benefit from light of the Havdala candle 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, he should not have Kavannah to be yotzei with the one making havdalah, and instead make the bracha over the ner when he is closer to the ner.


G. It is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to make a bracha on a ner which is an avukah (has a larger flame). 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--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 Parasha: 


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Five:  Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since we read Koheles.  We should take some life lessons with us from this great Megillah for the rest of the year--after all it has the dual zechus of being both words of Nevuah (see Targum to Koheles 1:1), and words of the wisest of all men. We mention only one example--a small portion of 1 of the 222 pesukim in this Megillah. Shlomo Hamelech (ibid., 7:14) teaches  Beyom Tova Heyeh BeTov--remember to be happy when thing are going well.... This is a great teaching in and of itself, but the Targum takes it an important step further--the Targum here translates these words to mean--’when Hashem has done good to you--be sure that you too then do good to other people --sharing and spreading that  goodness and good feeling.’ Keep this great teaching in mind for those moments of simcha in your life, and even when you really realize that you have been blessed with something or someone...and make sure others can feel good in some way as well!



Special Note Six: We continue with our “landmarks”. We are up to the bracha of Tekah B’Shofar--the first in a series of brachos pleading for the Geulah:


In the bracha of “Tekah B’Shofar Gadol”--when reciting the words “Tekah B’Shofar Gadol L’Cheiruseinu”, one can have the Kavannah that HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, urges him to have here. That is, to think that we want to hear the Shofar heralding the Geulah so that the Yetzer Hara will once and for all be quashed and we will finally be able to serve Hashem and bring Kavod Shomayim with each and every one of our faculties. We will then finally realize our full potential in life!


In the bracha of “Hashiva Shofteinu”--when reciting the words “Vehaser Mimenu Yagon V’Anacha”--reflect for a moment upon all of the pain and suffering--that of each individual and of all of K’lal Yisrael--that will cease when the Geulah in all of its glory comes upon us!


In the bracha of “Velamalshinim”--when reciting the words “VeHazeidim Meheirah Se’aker U’seshaber”--think about our dastardly and ruthless enemies in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, and all of those that seek to harm us worldwide--and realize that it is Hashem and only Hashem Who can humble them, uproot them, and smash them.


In the bracha of “Ahl HaTzadikim”--when reciting the words “V’Ahl Ziknei Amecha Bais Yisrael”--think about our zekeinim--such as HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, HaRav Shmuel Wosner, Shlita, HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, HaRav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, and your own Rosh Yeshivos, and daven for their good health and continued leadership of K’lal Yisrael.


In the bracha of “V’lirushalayim Irecha”--when reciting the words “U’vnei Osah BeKarov Beyameinu Binyan Olam”--think about how much you want it Beyameinu--in our days!


In the bracha of “Es Tzemach”--when reciting the words “Ki Lishuasecha Kivinu Kol Hayom”--remember the Kavannah that HaRav Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, urges us to have when reciting it--Ani Ma’amin B’Emunah Sheleimah B’viyas HaMoshiach…Achakeh Lo Bechol Yom Sheyavoh!


B’Ezras Hashem…to be continued on Monday (please provide us with any insights you may have)!




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:  (A) 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. (B) 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 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 Ya’aleh 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: We continue with our “landmarks”. Yesterday, we provided landmarks in the initial brachos of Shemone Esrei. Today, we continue with additions, with the hope and intent for each person to develop his own landmarks in the great daily opportunity known as Shemone Esrei. Oh, what people would give to have a personal meeting with the King, and the ability to make requests of Him--and we are so privileged more than once a day!

In the bracha of “Atta Chonein”--when reciting the words “Chaneinu Mei’itecha”--recognize that all of one’s wisdom, intuition, understanding and expertise is not attributable to his personal prowess--but is attributable to only One Source--which each of us have the opportunity to nurture from--for free!

In the bracha of “Hashiveinu”--when reciting the words “Vehachazireinu Bishuva Sheleima Lefanecha”--ask Hashem to give you the ability to recognize your faults and sins and to correct them immediately--rather than let them wallow for weeks and months.

In the bracha of “Selach Lanu”--when reciting the words “Mochel V’Solei’ach”--ask Hashem not merely to pardon an aveirah that you realize that you have recently committed (Mochel), but to completely expunge it (Solei’ach).

In the bracha of “Re’eih V’Anyeinu”--when reciting the words “Ki Go’el Chazak Ahta”--believe with a complete belief that there is no burden, task, job or request that is too big for Hashem to fulfill.

In the bracha of “Refaeinu”--when reciting the words “Rofeh Ne’eman V’Rachaman Ahta”--think about how one can be healed immediately and painlessly--if Hashem so wills. Statistics and procedures are overridden by Hashgacha Pratis.

In the bracha of “Bareich Aleinu”--when reciting the words “U’Vareich Shenaseinu Kashanim Hatovos”--think about a good year or a good time--and ask Hashem to bring back times like that again--or even better!

B’Ezras Hashem…to be continued tomorrow--but once again you can certainly start working on it today (and provide us with any insights you may have)!




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…!



LET THERE BE RAIN ! This outstanding new Sefer (Artscroll, 2014) by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, provides 178 daily lessons on making gratitude a part of our daily lives.  For those who are not yet connected to the brief, but powerful, daily lesson. We provide the following moving story, published as part of Lesson 21.


In an airport overseas, a secular president of an Israeli University recognized Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, the Ponovezher Rav. The president introduced himself by saying ‘K’vod Harav, we are in the same business, I am raising funds for my university and you are raising funds for your yeshivah’.


The Rav responded by embracing the man and exclaiming, ‘Shalom aleichem, Reb Yid!’


The president replied, ‘If the Rav would know what a sinner I am, he would not give me such a warm greeting,’


The Ponovezher Rav replied, ‘If only you knew what a holy spark lies within your neshamah, you would talk differently about yourself.’


In his memoirs, the man wrote that from that day on, ‘I began to feel like a Jew and act like a Jew. I refrained from certain sins forever, and I accepted upon myself to do certain Mitzvos.


I was reborn because the Ponovezher Rav greeted me and spoke to me!’


Hakhel Note: Once again, we highly recommend this treasured Sefer!


THE EBOLA THREAT. A reader asked us to remind others about a thought we had presented when the Avian Flu was threatening to become a pandemic several years ago.  The solution is the same--and so we present the thought once again:


Moshe Rabbeinu was a ‘k’vad peh’ (had difficulty speaking), and he so argued to Hakadosh Boruch Hu, in claiming that he was not the person to appear before Paroh.


The Ramban (Shmos 4:10) notes that this problem of his appearing before the King as a ‘k’vad peh’ was quite resolvable—all Moshe Rebbeinu had to do was daven to Hashem to be healed from this malady and he would have been cured.  In fact, the Ramban writes that Moshe Rabbeinu intentionally did not daven so that he would not be healed, and so that he would not have to go!


The Ramban then incredibly concludes that Hashem did not heal Moshe Rabbeinu because he did not daven for it.  Had he davened for it, Moshe would have approached Paroh cured.  As Hashem said, ‘Who gives mouths to people, or who makes people incapable of speech or deaf or capable of sight, or blind, is it not I, Hashem?’


There is a great lesson we can learn here.


Despite the reasons we may give as to why it might have been better for Moshe Rabbeinu to appear before Paroh as a k’vad peh (to ensure his humility, to demonstrate that he wasn’t G-d, etc.) and though his speech difficulties were Divinely ordained, if Moshe had davened to be healed, he would have been healed, and, as the Ramban asserts, Hashem said—because you did not daven, I will simply not heal you.


As enormous and horrific worldwide health hazards get bandied about by the media, historians and scientists, we note that the large fish that devoured Yonah was not the source of his death, but the method of his being brought safely to shore.  For us, the message is clear:  It is dependent on us—Daven, and I will heal you, don’t daven and…


Yes, of course, we can wait until it actually hits a country and people are infected, but we do not find that Mordechai HaTzadik waited an extra minute to daven, though Haman’s decree against the Jews was to take effect 11 months later.  As the Gemara (Shabbos 32A) teaches, one should take the time and effort to pray to Hashem that he not get sick, for zechus (merit) is needed to be healed once sickness has set in.


Let us do our part.  Where do we daven?  Perhaps at the end of Shemone Esrei in Elokai N’zor, or by saying additional Tehillim, and/or, at any time, in our own words.  We note that the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah defines the word ‘mogen’ in the brocha of ‘Mogen Avrohom’ as ‘Hashem protects us before any negative event or tzora occurs.’  This is exactly what we are pleading for here-’Hashem, please be our Mogen.’


Hashem, please be our Mogen!


READER REQUEST: A reader requested that we once again provide the four brachos to be recited upon Mashiach’s arrival, as brought in the name of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt’l.

1. Shecholak Maichochmoso Lee’rayov (a brocha that is recited over an outstanding Talmid Chochom--HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, recited this brocha when seeing Rav Elyashiv).

2. Shecholak Maikevodo Lee’rayov (over a Jewish king--the Melech HaMashiach).

3. Chacham HaRazim (upon 600,000 or more Jews together)

4. She’hechiyanu (HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that this She’hechiyanu will be Mai’ikar HaDin)


Hakhel Note: If you have not memorized these Brachos--then please keep this list handy!




Special Note One: As we begin the post-Yomim Noraim and Sukkos part of the year, having put away our Sukkahs, began the process of making Esrog jelly, and encounter the difficulty or struggle in holding on to our Kaballos, may we suggest one practical eitzah for maintaining one’s greater Kavannah in Tefillah throughout the year.


It is the concept of ‘landmarks’.


In every bracha of Shemone Esrei, one can find a phrase upon which to focus--and upon which he awaits to focus--so that he remains constantly attuned to his Tefillah on a bracha-by-bracha basis, as he intends to reach the landmark in each bracha.


The first bracha in Shemone Esrei requires Kavannah of the simple meaning in its entirety, and accordingly, is a wonderful inspirational starting point for a Kavannah-filled Shemone Esrei.


We then proceed…


In the bracha of ‘Mechayeh Hamaysim’-- when reciting the words ‘Mechalkel Chaim B’chesed’, one can reflect for a moment on the Chesed he receives. Alternatively, one can think about someone who is down, physically, mentally or financially at ‘Somaych Noflim’.  Of course, as we had suggested the other day, one will know whether he has recited the words ‘Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem’ if at that time he thinks about how Hashem makes each drop of rain land at a particular place at a particular time.


In Ata Kodosh, when reciting the words ‘Ukdoshim B’Chol Yom’, one can think about how he has the privilege of praising Hashem as the Malochim do! 


Be’Ezras Hashem…to be continued tomorrow--but you can certainly start working on it today (and provide us with any insights you may have)!




27 Tishrei



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--there is no segulah like it!


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.  We began the month of Tishrei with the knowledge that on Rosh Hashana our lives and our livelihood will be determined for the coming year.  We concluded the last Chag of Tishrei with the Tefillah for Geshem, asking for sustenance of blessing over the winter and the coming year.  An essential lesson, then, that extends throughout the entire month is that Hashem is the Provider, and that “Kochi VeOtzem Yadi--my strength and the power of my hand that accomplished this” is simply not part of the Torah Jew’s lexicon. 


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


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


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


9. At the Hakhel Sukkos Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, instructed everyone that they could strengthen their Emunah by simply not second-guessing themselves. One should not approach the situation with “if I had done this or that…”--but rather understand that Hashem is watching over him at all times and in every circumstance. If a person needs chein at a particular moment, and that is what is best for him, Hashem will provide him with the “chein spray” that is necessary!


10. After Mashiach arrives, we will return to the state of Adam HaRishon before the cheit. We most certainly look forward to this occurring in 5775!  Everyone should review and have handy (if not memorized) the four brachos that HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl will be recited when the Mashiach arrives!


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.  Each and every person can fill in his 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.


As we have noted in the past, 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.  Moreover, 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!




26 Tishrei

IMPORTANT! Just a few days ago, we began reciting “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem--He causes the wind to blow and brings down the rain.” The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah adds a bit more depth to its recitation. Hashem causes the wind to blow--bringing the clouds to where they are needed, and brings each drop down to its proper place at its proper time to fulfill its purpose--be it for punishment, be it for pleasure, or be it to maintain life itself. We must understand that each and every drop of rain has a place and a purpose, and we should reinforce this understanding every time we praise Hashem with these words. The added benefit to these two or three additional seconds of Kavannah at Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem is that you will definitely remember whether you recited Mashiv HaRuach in your Shemone Esrei.  Additional Point: One may want to keep his finger on the words of the first bracha of Shemone Esrei and continue doing the same  through Mashiv HaRuach--as an additional assurance that one does not miss this very important addition!


KITZUR SHULCHAN ARUCH YOMI!  The new cycle of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi began just this past Shabbos, 24 Tishrei.  Students of the incredible One-Year Program actually study and complete the entire Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in by studying only several paragraphs a day.  As we have noted in the past, the Chofetz Chaim writes that one can fulfill the words “Vehagisa Bo Yomam VaLayla” by learning Halacha in the morning and Halachos in the evening.  With so many wonderful English translations of the Kitzur, it is truly a great and relatively easy opportunity to review a vast amount of Halachos over the coming year, with an investment of only several minutes per day.  We provide a link to the Kitzur Yomi calendar below.  Seize the Opportunity! For calendars, please see http://kitzuryomi.org/Calendars.asp

Hakhel Note:   We remind you that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch near its outset (2:3) brings the Pasuk in last week’s Parasha of Ki Betzelem Elokim Asah Es HaAdam and teaches that when washing our face in the morning we should remember that we are doing so in order to honor Hashem, who created our image.  What a wonderful thought as one washes his face--now L’Sheim Shomayim--every morning!



Special Note One:  One of the obvious points of Sukkos was that no two individual Sukkah dwellings were at all the same (even if they appeared to be of the same materials). One person may have been able to sleep all nights in the Sukkah without hindrance, another may have no mosquito bites to show for the hours he spent there, a third may have been able to eat all meals in the Sukkah without rain because the timing of the minyanim he attended were just right. Some may have met all of their goals for Chol HaMoed, and others may have just managed at a minimum.  The key for us all is that each person’s Avodas Hashem is so special that it is incomparable to person sitting next to him in Shul--or even sitting at the same table together with him.  We should draw great Chizuk from this thought--as each and every one of us go through the year, it will be our personal tour with Hashem.  The more we feel our personal role in Avodas Hashem, the more real our spiritual lives and our relationship to Hashem will be.  It is fascinating to note that we concluded our daily recitation of L’Dovid Hashem Ori (Tehillim 27) with the words: “Kavei El Hashem Chazal V’Ameitz Libecha V’Kavei El Hashem--hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage; and hope to Hashem.”  Chazal (Brachos 32B) indeed learn from this Pasuk that if a person davens and sees that he is not answered, he should daven once again--working hard on building the relationship.  With the Yamim Noraim and the Yamim Tovim over--we are left with the greatest possible result--Hashem with us!



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



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



Special Note Four:  Shabbos Bereishis  is always a great experience, as we discover the birth of the world and the creation of man anew every year.  Many thoughts may cross through our mind as to how, why and when events happened, but they must be firmly rooted in the Emunah Peshuta that Hashem Was, Is, and Will Be, and that we will only understand some more when the Moshiach comes.  As we go on to study the other Parshios in Bereishis, we 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 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 creation. The Navi teaches that, when the Moshiach comes, there will no longer be wars among people. The commentaries explain that this is so because the Moshiach will resolve all disputes among people, making war obsolete. It appears that we are living in a time of what the world would call “history in the making,” as all kinds of 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, and by replacing all of the secular analyses of current world events with an awareness of Hashem’s pervasive presence. It all brings us back to the first Siman in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim--Shivisi Hashem LeNegdi Samid--let us keep Hashem before us all the time as we navigate our course through these pages in the ‘history’ books.



Special Note Five: We present the following two important excerpts relating to the Parasha from Rav Shach on Chumash (Artscroll) by his grandson, Rabbi Asher Bergman, Shlita, as translated into English by Rabbi Dovid Oratz, Shlita:


A. Rabbi Meir Heisler once mentioned to Rav Shach the opinion, advocated by several early commentators, that, although the fate of every human being and the details of his life are controlled directly by Hashem, this does not apply to animals. Hashem’s Hashgacha watches over the preservation--or lack of--the species as a whole, but does not concern itself with the fate of each and every butterfly and ant.  Rav Shach told him that this opinion was not accepted in mainstream Jewish thought.  The Talmud Yerushalmi says otherwise (Shevi’is 9:1): “Even a bird is not caught in a trap unless it is decreed so from Heaven.” R’ Heisler added that in Safra Detzniusa, the Vilna Gaon also explicitly disagrees with this concept, asserting that everything is hinted at in the Torah’s account of Creation--all the details of the life of every animal, and even vegetables and plants.  “Why, this is the concept that has fortified me throughout my life!” declared Rav Shach. ‘The knowledge that every single event that occurs to me is already foretold in the Torah. I am not rootless! I am not abandoned to ‘blind fate’!”


B. The first Rashi in Bereishis cites the Midrash’s question: “Why did Hashem see fit to begin the Torah from the story of Creation, and not from the first Mitzvah to all of B’nei Yisrael (Shemos 12:2): “HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem…this month shall be for you the first of the months?” Rav Shach would frequently quote this Rashi and comment: “How fortunate we are that Hashem did indeed choose to include the story of Creation in the Torah! The Chofetz Chaim used to read the entire first chapter of Bereishis each morning after reciting Birchos HaShachar, as a means of strengthening his faith in the Creator. If the Chofetz Chaim found this useful and necessary, how much more so should we!



Special Note Six:  We find in Parashas Bereishis that man is, in fact, distinguished from the animal kingdom in his ‘deah’ and ‘dibbur’--his ability to think and express that thought to others.  To bring this powerful point home, we provide the following selection from the outstanding Sefer Positive Word Power (Artscroll--Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation), which is truly a must-read sefer for every ‘thinking and speaking’ individual.


“Speech originates in the brain.  Before the word comes the thought; by definition, speech requires thinking.  The only question is whether one relies entirely on this involuntary process, or one works toward developing a conscious thought process that remains in gear at all times.  To avoid ona’as devarim, a person must dedicate his brain to filtering its output to a finer degree. Motivation is the key.   Someone who comes to the realization that ona’as devarim is really a negative factor in his life must then look for a different way, a means to ensure that impulsive, damaging words do not spill out of his mouth.  Even something as simple as posting a “Think before you speak” sign at the desk or on the kitchen counter can help.  Turning on the word filter and using it every time one speaks is ultimately nothing more than a habit which, like all habits, can be developed through repetition.  Where human effort leaves off, Divine Assistance will surely come into play to help all who devote themselves to protecting the dignity of their fellow man.”


Hakhel Note:  Please re-read. What a life-long lesson to take with us from the Parasha!!



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

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




14 Tishrei

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? Help to be mesameach others for Yom Tov by providing them with necessary food items.  Tzedakah is certainly one of the most primary preparations for Yom Tov (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 135:15).  We once again provide the www.yadeliezer.org for Aniyei Eretz Yisroel.  Yasher Koach!



SCHACH CARE :  Please see the following link on how to properly care for your Schach -  http://tinyurl.com/q2t5bop



DOVID HAMELECH: On Sukkos, we will be reciting “HaRachaman Hu Yakim Lanu Es Sukas Dovid HaNofoles”At the recent Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, asked: ‘If you had an audience with Dovid HaMelech, what do you think he would say to you?’  He provided a suggested answer.  What do you think it would be?



A SUKKOS OPPORTUNITY ! As we dwell in our Sukkos and realize how close we really are to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, it may be a wonderful time during the course of each meal to speak about or reflect upon an aspect of Shivisi Hashem Linegdi Somid. Success in Shivisi the Sukkah can produce special results for the coming year as well!



ANOTHER SUKKOS OPPORTUNITY ! If you have the opportunity to be among family or friends at the Sukkos table—perhaps the idea of a family or friends Kaballah for the comingyear could be discussed.  Endeavoring to make Brachos loud enough for a person to answer Amen, Brachos while sitting down…an hour during the day in which everyone is careful in Shemiras HaLashon, everyone doing a private Chesed once a day….The possibilities are almost endless, and could achieve truly great—and almost endless--results.  Please consider!



DAVEN! We DO NOT want it to rain on our treasured Mitzvah of Sukkah.  We have one tool--our TEFILLOS --which are more powerful than any forecasts--let us do our part today in davening that we have the opportunity this evening, tomorrow evening and throughout Sukkos to fulfill the Mitzvah thoroughly and BeHiddur Nifla!



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



OFF! We asked Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, whether on Shabbos or Yom Tov one is permitted only to spray his body with “Off” anti-mosquito spray, or whether he can use “Off” anti-mosquito lotion as well. He advised that one could use the lotion on Shabbos or Yom Tov, but not rub it on or smooth it out--just pour it on and let it spread by itself.



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We conclude our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Because of the close proximity to Sukkos, we will provide a greater number of Halachos. We note that one should also study the Halachos Sukkos on Sukkos itself (which is the final teaching of Mesechta Megillah--Megillah 32A).


A. We present below several rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Sukkos, as excerpted from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Volume III ):


1.  If a person makes a Sukkah on top of a car, the car has Kedusha, and one cannot take down the Sukkah and use the car for other purposes--even if one initially had only intended to use the Sukkah for a short time, no tenai will help regarding the Sukkah itself (as a tenai only helps for the Noi Sukkah). 


2.  A large Sukkah is not more of a Hidur than a small Sukkah--if one does not need a large Sukkah.  If a Sukkah is too small, it is a Chiyuv Gamur to make it larger for one’s family to fit--not a ‘Hidur’. 


3.  The Halachos of Noi Sukkah apply only to something attached to the Sukkah--not to a plant, flowers or the like, which do not have any restrictions relating to taking them out of the Sukkah. 


4.  If snow falls on the Sukkah, it is batel to the Schach, and the Sukkah may be used. 


5.  One may not nail down the Schach even if he is worried that the Schach may fly up in a high wind.  One should instead tie boards next to the Schach to weigh it down, or tie the Schach loosely with something that is not mekabel tumah.  If Schach did fly off on Shabbos or Yom Tov, one can have an akum put it back, telling him to do so L’Shem Tzel--for the sake of shade.  Hakhel Note:  As we have advised in the past, if the Schach flew up and flew back down itself, a question may be whether it has been placed back on the Sukkah L’Shem Tzel.  One should consult his Rav in this event.


6.  If a child under Bar Mitzvah put up the Schach, one should preferably place the Schach down again. 


7.  If a woman made a Shehechiyanu on Hadlakas Neiros, she can still answer “Amen” to the Shehechiyanu in Kiddush, because the Shehechiyanu in Kiddush applies to other Mitzvos as well (such as building the Sukkah and dwelling in it). 


8.  If one in the past had been makpid not to even eat Achilas Ar’aee out of the Sukkah, and wants to stop this practice, it would be better for him to be Matir Neder. 


9.  If one is eating meat, fish or cheese as a meal, he must eat it inside the Sukkah. 


10.  If one takes a drink in the Sukkah, drank a little bit and then went into his house for something, when he comes back to the Sukkah, he must make a new bracha--for this would be considered akira mibayis l’bayis. 


11.  In Kiddush, one makes a bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen and then Leisheiv BaSukkah, for he will surely continue to eat immediately, as one must eat immediately after Kiddush.


12.  If one has a Sukkah in his kitchen, he must have a Mechitzah between the area of the pots and pans, and the area of the Sukkah.  Even in a public Sukkah, one should be careful to take out dirty dishes right away, so as not to leave the Sukkah in a mevuzeh (disgraceful) state. 


13.  Outside of the Sukkah, if a person feels that he is going to fall asleep if he sits down on a certain chair, then it is not considered an ‘accident’ that he fell asleep outside the Sukkah; accordingly, it is not permissible--and one should wake him up.  If one did not realize that he would fall asleep outside of the Sukkah and he does, then he has not done an issur. 


14. If one had used palm tree leaves for Lulav knots (it being clear that they were used for the Lulav), one should not throw them out in a disrespectful way. 


15.  The basis for the Minhag of bringing instruments into Shul for a Simchas Beis Hashoeivah is Zecher L’Mikdash. Hakhel Note:  Let us treat a Simchas Bais Hoshoeivah accordingly! 


B. We present below several rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Hilchos Yom Tov, also as excerpted from Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Orach Chaim, Volume III ). 


1. Since there is no equivalent of Lecha Dodi or Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos, one should fulfill the Mitzvah of Tosefes Yom Tov by accepting Yom Tov upon himself before Shekiyah. Women should light candles before Yom Tov begins, and not after.


2. One can place a wick into its floating holder on Yom Tov, provided that the hole is fully open before putting the wick in. 


3. The Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov requires a husband to buy his wife new Yom Tov clothing, even if she already has Yom Tov attire.  A woman can be Mocheles a new article of clothing, and it is not then considered as if the husband has not fulfilled the Mitzvah.  If one cannot afford it, he should at least buy new shoes for her.  In our time, one may buy jewelry which may be less expensive than shoes, if his wife attains Simcha through the new jewelry item. 


4. A man should fulfill the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov by having a Revi’is of wine every day.  If one truly dislikes wine, he need not drink it, because he will not be Besimcha as a result.  One can, however, mix grape juice with the wine so that he does not taste the alcohol. 


5. One take bones out of fish and meat on Yom Tov, check rice, and wash fruits and vegetables which are dirty (even if they were inedible without washing), and there is no issur of Borer.  However, with respect to utensils, clothing and Seforim, the laws of Borer are similar to those of Shabbos, and the Heter of Borer on Yom Tov is only with respect to food items. 


6. One should only carry on Yom Tov items which will still be needed for that day, not simply for the purpose of protecting one’s article, or preventing a loss. 


7. It is forbidden to squeeze on Yom Tov; accordingly, one cannot squeeze fruits for their juice, even if one wants to drink the juice on Yom Tov. 


8. The restrictions that apply to opening containers on Shabbos, apply identically on Yom Tov.


9. LeChatchila, opening a refrigerator on Yom Tov, has the same Halachos as on Shabbos. However, BeSha’as HaDechak, one can me Maikil on Yom Tov and open the refrigerator even if the motor is not on.


10. One may not make ice cubes on Yom Tov, for it is similar to Boneh, and Boneh is Assur on Yom Tov as well.


11. One may take milk or soup out of the freezer, and the Issur of Nolad is no violated on Yom Tov.  Similarly, one can bake a cake even though the mixture of ingredients was originally liquid and will turn into a solid, and it is not considered Nolad for Yom Tov purposes.


12. One can take something frozen out of the freezer to defrost for Yom Tov Sheini if it is not a Tircha, but one cannot heat something up from Yom Tov Rishon to Yom Tov Sheini.


13. One can put something into the refrigerator or freezer even for the next day, for it is being done for orderliness (like putting it into its proper cabinet) and not considered a preparation for the next day.


14. If one forgot to put on the lights on Erev Yom Tov, and it reduces his Simchas Yom Tov, he can ask an akum to turn on the lights, because it is a Shvus  D’Shvus BeMakom for the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov.


15. It is permissible to fold one’s Tallis on Yom Tov which is Erev Shabbos, even if one has not made an Eruv Tavshilin.  However, it is not permissible to wash dishes on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbos, even if one has made an Eruv Tavshilin. BeSha’as HaDechak HaGadol, it would be permissible.  Married children who will be with their parents for Yom Tov should be told by his parents that he is being mezakeh them with his Eruv. 



Special Note One: Sukkos points and pointers:


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


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


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


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


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


F.  On Chag HaSukkos, we spend much time and effort in order to properly perform the Mitzvos of Sukkah and the Four Minim.  Many people may forget that there is another great Mitzvah on Sukkos, which is the Mitzvah to be b’Simcha--in a state of happiness.  In fact, Sukkos is known as “Z’man Simchasenu--a time of bliss.” The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes in the name of the Arizal that one who is truly joyful on Sukkos, and does not allow himself to be pained, is assured that he will have a good year and will merit constant joy.  The Pele Yoetz writes that one can attain this level of joy by reflecting upon how fortunate he is to be so different from all other creations in the universe, by having the opportunity to be close to Hashem through the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos. The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Lulav ( 8:15 ), explains that the euphoria we should experience on Sukkos is an inner joy which is rooted in the depths of the heart:


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


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


Additional Note: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that Chazal uniquely refer to Sukkos simply as ‘Chag’, for the word Chag is a special indication of Simcha, symbolizing the dancing in a circle that was and is typically celebrated at a Simchas Beis HaShoeivah. Indeed, the Torah specifically reiterates the Simcha that we are to feel on Chag HaSukkos with the Pasuk (Devarim 16:14 ,15): “VeSamachta BeChagecha…VeHayisa Ach Samei’ach.” HaRav Chaim understands this special reiteration in the Pasuk to mean that there is a second Mitzvah --a Simcha Yeseirah on Sukkos over and above that of the other Chagim! HaRav Chaim adds that, based upon this elevated, additional concept of Simcha on Sukkos, we must understand and internalize that Hashem is telling us to be happy because there is much to be happy about with the great Mitzvos over the Yom Tov of Sukkos!


Special Note Two:   NACH YOMI—AN AFTER SUKKOS OPPORTUNITY TO THINK ABOUT NOW ! If you begin on 23 Tishrei (October 17) to study 2 Perakim of Nach a day—you will make a Siyum in one year—on the 22nd day of Tishrei of 5776. What a year of accomplishment this can be!


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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







13 Tishrei



1. Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Shlita, teaches that Torah is different than oxygen--for oxygen is what helps us live by breathing it in--while Torah is life itself! We should remember this when we open a Sefer to learn or when a shiur begins…it is life itself, and not only life in this world, but life for eternity!


2. The Targum Yonasan on the Pasuk “Ki Bishrirus Libi Eileich” (Devorim 29:18) writes that the reason a person would do as his heart sees fit, is only because he is depressed (yei’ush) by having sinned. The Torah obviously is severely reprimanding anyone guilty of this attitude and behavior. Indeed, Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, Shilta, teaches that if one made a mistake he must do the proper Teshuvah--and be sure to keep going!


3. After Man is created, the Torah calls the Sixth Day of Creation, “Tov Meod”--very good. Chazal teach that what is “very good” is the Yetzer Hara. This is because the Yetzer Hara provides us with two great opportunities--one to use its strength and capacities for good, and the second to overcome and defeat its urgings to commit an aveira--giving us the ability to exercise our free will--our purpose in life (and great reward!)”


Hakhel Note: We should constantly remind ourselves of the very first word of the entire Shulchan Aruch--YISGABER!!



IMPORTANT TEACHING PROVIDED BY A READER: “It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy!”



SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT FROM A READER: It is definitely not too late to improve--we had received the following suggestions for improvement from a reader:


“1. Please note that it is forbidden to place one’s hat or reading glasses on top of a siddur, sefer, Chumash, Gemara, etc. Many people are unfortunately not careful with this.


2. The Tefillin Shel Rosh must be placed above the hairline. If it’s placed below the hairline, you were not mekayem the mitzvah - and if you made a bracha on the shel rosh, the bracha was said in vain. Again, many people are unfortunately not careful with this.


3. Do not talk while wearing Tefillin. If you want to talk, take off your Tefillin first. There are people who go outside the shul after davening and talk on their cell phones while still wearing Tefillin. Anyone who fears Hashem and who has respect for the holy Tefillin will be careful not to engage in idle chatter while wearing them.


4. If possible, try not to leave the shul until after the final Kaddish has been said. Many people have the “minhag” to start walking out during (or even before) Aleinu. This should be avoided unless there are extenuating circumstances and you must leave shul early.


5. Many men have the “minhag” to shake hands with women - and I have seen that there are those who will even initiate a handshake with a lady. While it’s true that some poskim are lenient on this issue, I understand that HaRav Moshe was against it. Ask yourself: If HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, were in the room, would I shake hands with someone of the opposite gender? If you wouldn’t shake hands with a lady in Reb Moshe’s presence, then why would you shake hands with a lady in the presence of Hashem - who is everywhere?!”





1. Is it a greater hiddur to build a larger Sukkah even if one does not require so much space?


2. If one has two Sukkahs to enter--and one is more beautifully decorated than the other--is it a greater Mitzvah to dwell in the more beautifully decorated Sukkah?


3. Although we make the bracha of Shehechiyanu both on the first and second nights of Sukkos, we only make the bracha of Shehechiyanu over the Daled Minim on the first day and not on the second day--why?



TEHILLIM CHAPTER 150: As we have noted in the past, the last HalleluKah--the last Kepitel in Tehillim (Chapter 150), has 12 phrases--each corresponding to a  month of the year.  This month’s corresponding phrase is Halleluhu BeNeivel V’Chinor--let’s get the message!



TODAY IS THE DAY ! The Luach Davar B’Ito brings that today (13 Tishrei) is the day that Sedom and its neighboring cities were turned over.  Perhaps the lesson is that this reflects the period we are in--uprooting evil and bringing good to the world!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. Because of the close proximity to Sukkos, we will provide a greater number of Halachos:


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



2. It is a Hidur Mitzvah to use new aravos every day of Chol HaMoed (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 137:6).


3. A Lulav is Muktzah on Shabbos, and one may not move it l’tzorech gufo u’mekomo--even if one needs the place that it is in (ibid. 137:7).


4..  We present below several Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma’aseh Rav:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


   Answer:  One should be careful.



Special Note One:  Sukkos points and pointers:


A.  The Zohar writes that the Sukkah can be compared to the Teivah of Noach, Noach’s Ark , which protected and eternally preserved the remnants of all life on earth.  The Sukkah takes all of our physical and human drives and activities such as eating, drinking, sitting, walking, and sleeping, and houses them in the spiritual well beyond the seven days of Sukkos.  The ephemeral becomes the everlasting.  Complementing the Sukkah is the taking and shaking of the Four Minim, which symbolizes the spiritual control over harmful gashmiyus, such as dangerous winds and dews--also, once again, well beyond Sukkos.


B.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 625, seif katan 1) reminds us that every time we dwell in the Sukkah we should remind ourselves that we are doing so both “Zeicher LeYetzias Mitzrayim and Zecher LeAnanei Hakavod.”  Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl, incredibly points out that the Mishna Berurah writes that if one does not have these Kavannos when entering the Sukkah, he is only Yotzei the Mitzvah of Sukkah--BeDieved!!  Accordingly, one is well advised to have a reminder upon entering the Sukkah of the proper Kavannos, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah LeChatchila--in the first instance.  We provide by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/3eyrbyu    a reminder sheet that one can keep near his seat in the Sukkah, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah LeChatchila each and every time!


Additional Note: We provide by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/3qpda9y  a Kavannah card for the first night (or for the first two nights) of Sukkos sent to us by a reader based on a Shiur given by Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld, Shlita, of Cleveland.  We note that items 2, 3, and 5 on the card apply all seven days of Sukkos! 


C.  The Mishna Berurah also writes that because of the great Kedusha of the Sukkah, one must be especially careful not to engage in forbidden talk, and try not to engage in mundane chatter (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 639, Mishna Berurah, Seif Katan 2).  One should look around the Sukkah from time to time and remind himself that he is engulfed in a Mitzvah like no other time during the year! We provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/3pznx8a  a treasure-filled message from the Mishna Berurah to post in your Sukkah or to keep close-by.  Special thanks to Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita, who printed beautiful color posters, and allowed us to copy and distribute. Hakhel Note:  One’s  Sukkah Decorations become Muktzah over Yom Tov, unless he makes a tenai that he intends to get benefit from them (use them, eat them, etc.) over Yom Tov and/or Chol HaMoed. For the specifics of the appropriate tenai , please consult with your Rav or Posek.


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


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


F.  When one enters the Sukkah to eat a Seudah, he should invite the Ushpizin verbally--for if he does not invite them, they do not come.  The Ushpizin will also not come if money is not set aside for the poor for Sukkos (Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah 11:13 ; see also the Shelah HaKadosh, Mesechtas Sukkah).  


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


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


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




12 Tishrei

PLEASE DON ’T FORGET!  The monetary matters that you realized on Yom Kippur have to be cleared up--clear them up now--before Sukkos!


A TIMELY REMINDER:  During the very short period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos in the year that we left Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisrael were busy donating all the materials that were necessary to build the Mishkan.  The grand generosity of our ancestors during this period brought together all of the great wealth necessary to build the Mishkan before Sukkos even began (see Ba’al HaTurim, Shemos 36:6)!  We must take a lesson, based upon the principle of Ma’aseh Avos Siman L’Bonim, and use this specially endowed time to give Tzedaka to worthy causes-- both in Eretz Yisroel (as the center of Kedusha) and in your own locale. Make it a priority--for the Torah did--during this sanctified time! Remember the needy of Eretz Yisroel for Yom Tov (and to redeem your Yizkor pledges in a worthy way at yadeliezer.org.



ERUV TAVSHILIN: Within the next two weeks, we will be blessed with the opportunity to make an Eruv Tavshilin two times! To assist in properly performing this wonderful Mitzvah, we once again provide by http://tinyurl.com/43svvmg, the Halachos of Eruv Tavshilin, as reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita. Please feel free to distribute further!



CARBON MONOXIDE ALERT: We received the following, which has been widely distributed last year. We have verified its source: “On the ‘third day’ of Rosh Hashanah [really Shabbos Shuva], I was awakened by the sound of the carbon monoxide alarm announcing high levels. We immediately cleared everyone out of the house and summoned the fire department. When they arrived, they informed me that the cause of the high carbon monoxide levels was due to leaving the stove and oven on over Yomtov and Shabbos. The buildup of these dangerous fumes was not due to a faulty gas line or leaking appliances, but rather to the lack of adequate ventilation. The constant burning of the gas range and oven - even on a low flame, will over time emit unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide.  I was told that the fire department was tending to many such calls over the last few days. The firemen implored me to please tell the Rabbis and announce to the community that if people need to leave on the stove or oven over the holidays, then must ensure that the area is properly ventilated. Turning on an exhaust fan or even opening the kitchen window a bit is enough to prevent terrible danger. I would also like to stress the importance of a carbon monoxide detector. They are not expensive and often come together with the smoke alarm. I would not want to think what our Shabbos would have been like had we not had the alarm- especially since the gas travels upward and the levels upstairs where everyone was sleeping were much higher. I have been told that in some communities there are public announcements to alert people to take the necessary precautions.”



YOUR KABBALAH NOTEBOOK--Is everything in check?




We currently have 7 separate free subscription emails that we provide.
1) A Daily Companion
2) A Lesson A Day
3) Lessons in Truth
4) Loving Kindness
5) The sefer Chofetz Chaim  in the original Hebrew
6) Ohaiv Yomim (Daily Companion translated into Hebrew)
7) Positive Word Power

In order to receive A Daily Companion, please email me to
dcompanion@chofetzchaimusa.org  with subject subscribe

In order to receive Lessons in Truth, please email me to
truth@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe.

In order to receive Loving Kindness, please email me to
kindness@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe.

In order to receive Positive Word Power, please email me to
positive@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe.

In order to receive sefer Chofetz Chaim, please email me to
hebrewCC@chofetzchaimusa.org with subject subscribe.

In order to receive sefer Ohaiv Yomim, please email me to
ohaivyomim@chofetzchaimusa.org  with subject subscribe.

All emails are sent in html format. If you would like plain text, please
send me an email with the subject line “Plain text”.


For further information please contact CCHF at 845-352-3505.


Hakhel Note on Lessons in Truth:  It is said that an excellent tool for Teshuva is undertaking never to lie--this should prevent any other sin, for a person would not be able to lie and deny he committed it--thus effectively blocking the sin from occurring!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


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

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


Two important reminders, among of all the others, when purchasing your Daled Minim:


1.  One should not purchase any of the Four Minim (including the Aravos on Erev Yom Tov) from a child under Bar Mitzvah, as he is not capable of effecting a halachically-valid transaction.


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



TISHREI! Some say that the word Tishrei is rooted in the word Tishri--which means to untie or unravel. In this month, we untie the leash of the Yetzer Hara had placed upon us--and we are off on our own to stay as close as we can to the actions of Malochim--rather than to the actions of animals. The Ba’alei Mussar give the example of a poor man who collects enough money to buy a horse--which will save him much time and effort, and will allow him to make greater profits in any new business endeavor. Upon purchase of the horse, it will be up to the new owner--will he let the horse lead him wherever the horse wants to go--to the pasture area, towards other horses, to destroy those tools or that fence? Or--will the new owner direct the horse to proceed in a calm and orderly fashion towards the fair where he can purchase what he needs to take care of himself and his family? Over the past year, one may have permitted his body to run his soul awry--but, we now have committed ourselves to take control of the horse and use it for his true purpose--to help his master in each and every way possible to succeed!


Special Note One: Our Yom Kippur Tefillos are over for 5775. It is our responsibility for the fervor, passion, or feeling that we experienced (at least at some point!) during the Tefillos to continue on with us through the year.  We note that there are several highlights of the Yom Kippur Tefilla which we recite daily.  They include Shema Koleinu, Aleinu, Baruch Sheim Kevod, and the ‘Mah Anu-Meh Chayeinu’ climax of our personal Neilah prayers.  At least when reciting these daily Tefillos we should remind ourselves of the feelings we had on Yom Kippur as we pled for our lives, and for the salvation of a shaky and nervous world. There is no doubt about it, your Tefilla makes a difference—and you better believe it!


One other related point:  The Maharsha explains that the absolute requirement to have Kavannah in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei can be attributed to the fact that this one short Bracha contains so many Names of Hashem.  On Yom Kippur, we experienced a great awe of Hashem, and gained a more sublime appreciation of the Sanctity of His Name. May we suggest that for the coming year (or at least for the coming month) one especially focus on the Names of Hashem in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei ( if you have not counted at least nine, you have counted incorrectly). Indeed, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 98, seif katan 3) writes that before beginning Shemone Esrei, one should picture himself as if he is in the Kodesh Hakodoshim (as the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur!)--don’t give up the incredible and tangible opportunity as you recite the Names of Hashem with their proper meaning.  For further detail on the Kavanos in these Names, please consult with your Rav or Posek. The Kohen Gadol may recite the name of Hashem in his particular way—but you are empowered and charged to recite them in your way as well!



Special Note Two:  We provide the following additional Post-Yom Kippur points and pointers:

A. We remind everyone of the Responsa of the Rashba (Teshuvas HaRashba 5:1), who states that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillah Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillah Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!

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

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

D. The Rabbeinu Yonah, in the Igeres HaTeshuva (1:22) writes that it is a “Takanah Gedola”, it is of great assistance, to a person to find a friend or even a Rav or other mentor to discuss more heavenly matters with, and give, take, or exchange advice on maintaining and raising our Ruchniyus now and even throughout the year.



Special Note Three:  During this very busy time, we must remember that a prime order of the day is for our intellect to rule over our emotions, and control the situation, rather than be controlled by it.  As the Orchos Chaim L’Rosh urges: “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha” -- do not react with confusion or overreact; rather, be calm and collected.  There is much to do in the next several days, and much of it has to do with Mitzvos and their proper performance.  Let us have the presence to keep ourselves in the right frame of mind.  If we are supposed to be happy on Yom Tov--shouldn’t we be happy when preparing to be happy?!

In this regard, may we suggest preparing a checklist now so that important items and activities are not left for Erev Yom Tov!  Family members should have their Yom Tov clothing purchased or cleaned; children should receive the treats that will make them happy; 72-hour candles--which help tremendously if one is in need of fire on the third day of Yom Tov, are now available, and can be purchased.  Please feel free to supply us with your additional suggestions for early preparation to share with us all.



Special Note Four: The period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is so spiritually elevated, it is reported that the Chasam Sofer composed Shiros V’Sishbachos to Hashem during this particular time--let us keep up our spirits elevated-- tap in to time!




9 Tishrei

YOM KIPPUR SHOE ALERT: All Toms shoes with the exception of their vegan line are made with leather insoles (Flatbush Jewish Journal).



FLATBUSH MOTZA’EI YOM KIPPUR STUDY HOUR! Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, is urging the Flatbush community to come to Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin, 2913 Avenue L, on Motza’ei Yom Kippur from 8:30PM to 9:30PM for an hour long Seder Limud session. This is part of a nation-wide project in which shuls in the United States and Canada will be participating in this special Seder Limud. Refreshments will be served. For those not living in Flatbush--perhaps you can do the same in your community!



FROM A READER: “I love the idea of being a walking mitzvah.  I often will take extra tissues with me to a shiur, they are easy and light to carry and so much appreciated by the person who sneezes and is without.  Perhaps if one is a ‘walking mitzvah’ then not only is the ‘chesed item’ he is carrying a mitzvah, but perhaps he is performing a mitzvah with each step he takes or each mile he drives while having the chesed item in his possession. Additionally, one can become a walking mitzvah on Shabbos (or any day of the week) when it is forbidden to carry, by making it a priority to dispense a smile or kind word and to have a sever panim yafos. I would love to hear further suggestions from your readers for ways in which one can be a walking mitzvah.” 



THE AHL CHEIT LINK:  We provide by the following link for your use today and Yom Kippur a compiled review of the Ahl Cheits that we have briefly reviewed in steady steps since Elul. Please feel free to print-out, and share the link with others!  http://tinyurl.com/p8ewl7d 



HAMELECH HAMISHPAT: The Kuntres Avodas Hatefillah brings that the meaning of the term HaMelech HaMishpat is HaMelech HaYosheiv Achshav Ahl HaMishpat--the King who is now sitting on the throne of justice.



LET US START THINKING!:  The Sefer Leket Reshimos brings the following teachings of HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, relating to Yom Kippur and Teshuvah:


1. The entire day of Yom Kippur is an experience of Lifnei Hashem--standing in front of the Borei Olam. One should arein tracht--think deeply into what this opportunity and privilege really is. To begin with, one must realize that he has an abundance of Siyata Dishmaya, that his heart is pure, and that he should make great effort to focus on his Tefillos--for hatzlacha in the coming year!


2. Because Yom Kippur is a day of Kedusha and Tahara--all that one does becomes Kadosh and Tahor as well!


3. The reason that one who is Ma’avir Ahl Middosav is forgiven for his sins is because an individual cannot stand up to Din--but as part of community, he is able to. When one is Ma’avir Ahl Middosav, he demonstrates that he is not only concerned with himself--but with others as well--and is accordingly part of the community!



YOM KIPPUR INITIATIVE: Once again, by the following link we provide the 5775 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!  http://tinyurl.com/ke5jqy5



EXTRA SPECIAL VIGILANCE: Although the above form of Ta’anis Dibur is only for a short period (one can make it longer!), one should be especially careful and vigilant that he not get angry on Yom Kippur, not be makpid against another, and be especially Ma’avir Ahl Middosav(as above)!



BORUCH SHEIM KEVOD: On Yom Kippur we will be especially privileged to recite Boruch Sheim Kevod aloud together in Shema at Ma’ariv and Shacharis, and at the conclusion of Ne’ilah. Does one recite Boruch Sheim aloud in Kriyas Shema Ahl HaMittah on the night of Yom Kippur? HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that one does not. The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos brings that it is minhag Chabad to do so. Accordingly, every person should follow his Rav or Posek in this area.



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



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos (please continue on your own until we B’EH resume on Monday!):


1. HaRav Yaakov Ettlinger, Z’tl, in his great work on Sukkos, the Bikkurei Yaakov, writes that person should act wisely when building his Sukkah so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah with greater ease--and allow himself the ability to stay in the Sukkah, rather than saying that he is ‘patur’--for one who adds on to his kiyum of Sukkah will have bracha added on to him Min HaShomayim. It is well known, for example, that the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, and HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, would bring a heater into the Sukkah in order to make it more comfortable, a more pleasant place to stay in, and a place where one could learn without difficulty (Shulchan Aruch

Orach Chaim 639, Dirshu Note 34).


2. There is a question as to whether one should recite the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah when making Havdalah. Even if one is to recite a Leisheiv BaSukkah when reciting Havdalah, there are different opinions as to at what point it should be recited. One should accordingly consult with his Rav or Posek in this area. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, would, for example, make the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah before he made the bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen and then eat mezonos immediately after Havdalah, so that the bracha of Leisheiv BaSukkah would not only be on the drinking of the wine itself, but on the eating of a mezonos as well (ibid., Dirshu Note 37).




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


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


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


C.  We will be reciting Viduy at Mincha.  It is essential that a person truly view himself as a sinner in the areas in which he has sinned.  Yirmiyahu HaNavi ( 2:35 ) cried out “Hinini Nishpot Osuch Al Umreich Lo Chotosi”--I will judge you when you say you have not sinned.  On the other hand, if one truly does Teshuvah, then he has the right to sing the Ashamnus--as the Tiferes Yisroel (end of Mishnayos Ta’anis) writes--one is singing for his Aveiros have turned into Zechuyos! The Chayei Adam (Chapter 143) presents a tremendous number of essential ideas, and we once again urge you to review the Chapter today.   Here, we very briefly summarize just a few of the concepts:  (a) The Pasuk states “Lifnei Hashem Titharu--before Hashem shall you cleanse yourself.’  Accordingly, it is essential that we begin our purification process before Yom Kippur itself--now!.  (b) The sin of Lashon Hara is so horrific that, it leads to the three cardinal sins of Shefichas Domim, Gilui Arayos and Avodah Zara.  We learn this from the Nachash who spoke Lashon Hara against Hashem--which the immediate result of these three cardinal sins occurring. (c)  One who causes pain or anguish to an Almanah or Yasom is liable to Missah B’Yedei Shomayim.  (d) In accordance with one’s increased Torah study will be his increased service of Hashem.  (e) One cannot recite Vidui on a Bain Adam LeChaveiro sin unless he first appeases his friend. (f) Based upon Tehillim (51:19), reciting Vidui with proper remorse is as if one brought a Karbon in the Bais HaMikdash.  (g) One way to begin one’s remorse is with the words “Ma Assisi--oh what have I done!” A person must truly view  himself as a sinner, and be truly sorry for what he has done for the Vidui to be effective.


Hakhel Note: The Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 1), writes that one’s Kavannah in Vidui should be LeKabel Alav Taharah--to bring purity upon oneself. It is for this reason that Dovid HaMelech in the Tehillim Kepitel of Teshuvah exclaims (Tehillim 51:4):  “Herev Kabseini Mei’avoni U’Meichatasi Tahareini--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity and from my sin purify me.” When reciting Viduy, one should visualize Hashem cleansing his soul!

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



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


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


B.  If a person arises before Amud HaShachar, one should wash his hands again after Amud HaShachar even on Yom Kippur, where there is otherwise an issur of rechitza.


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


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


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


Additional Notes on Hilchos Shabbos--as part of our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


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


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


C.  Remember that the Mitzvah of Lech Echol B’Simcha Lachmecha on Motza’ei Yom Kippur...will also be your Mitzvah of Melave Malka! HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that it appears from the Mishna Berura that there is a special Mitzvah to wash at the Motza’ei Yom Kippur Seudah (This week’s Divrei Siach).


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


A.  According to some authorities, Yom Kippur is the Yahrtzeit of Rebbi Akiva, who gave his life Ahl Kiddush Hashem in such an awe-inspiring way.  This may be the reason that we enumerate the Asara Harugei Malchus in Musaf on Yom Kippur.  Undoubtedly, we mention them as well so that their merits stand in our stead.  


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


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


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


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


F.  The great majority of Masechta Yoma, the Masechta of Yom Kippur, discusses the Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash.  Indeed, we even bow down during the Chazaras HaShatz of Mussaf, just so that we have a touch of the Avodah that we so long for.  It is said of the Chasam Sofer that when the Avodah was being recited he would cry so powerfully that the pages of his Machzor would stick together from their saturation with his tears.  Accordingly, although we may be weary at this point of a Yom Kippur service it very much behooves us to put our efforts into recitation of the Avodah with feeling and longing for the great Kapparah and Deveikus that it effected.  Imagine being there as the Kohein Gadol expressed Hashem’s ineffable Name ten times on Yom Kippur.  In describing the Kohein Gadol’s mentioning of the Name, the Mishna states that the name was Yotzei MePi Kohein Gadol--it came out of the Kohein Gadol’s mouth.  The Tiferes Yisroel on the Mishna explains that he could not even speak but the Shechina was reciting the Name out of the Kohein Gadol’s throat.  Oh--how we must long to be there!


Additional Note: In the Musaf Shemone Esrei, we will recite the words “V’ein Anachnu Yecholim La’asos Chovoseinu B’vais Bechirasecha--we cannot perform our obligations in the Beis Hamikdash this Yom Kippur because of the foreign hand that has been placed there.”  We must take these words deeply to heart.  It is our chov--our current and existing obligation--to bring Karbanos in the Beis HaMikdash and for the Kohein Gadol to perform the special Avodah on Yom Kippur.  This is not something of the past--nor is it relegated only to the future.  It is something that we must do now, and we are being forced not to do it.  When reciting all of the words relating to Avodas Yom Kippurim we should bring them to life in our minds, and also sincerely yearn in our hearts that we see them in reality in our days!


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



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


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


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


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


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


E.  Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, Shlita, points out that because the Luchos Sheniyos were given on Yom Kippur-and these Luchos stayed with us, it is essential for us to realize that Yom Kippur is an auspicious time to b’li neder take it upon ourselves to improve in some area in Talmud Torah! Once again, may we suggest that even if one does not have a Yeshiva Mai Chayil El Chayil in his community that he still demonstrate his new goals and aspirations by setting aside time for Torah study after the Seudah.  This is dedication--this is rededication!  






8 Tishrei


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



QUESTION OF THE DAY : What is the first word in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim? What does that teach us about our approach to life?


I KNOW HIM! As we all know, one of the main topics of our Vidui will be the sins that one has committed with his great gift of speech.  One phrase that one should be very cautious about using, when speaking to another, “Oh, I know him!” This kind of open-ended statement can lead to all kinds of responses…many of which could be Lashon Hora or Avak Lashon Hora.



CLOSE YOUR EYES : At a Shiur on Teshuvah, Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg, Shlita, asked everyone to close their eyes for a few moments and have Hirhurei Teshuvah. After everyone opened their eyes, he noted that this was only beginning--but who knows what Yeshuos could come from a few moments of Hirhurei Teshuvah alone! One must start somewhere--this may be the way to begin!



THE RAMBAM’S POWERFUL LESSON: In Hilchos Teshuvah (7:3), the Rambam writes: “One should not say that Teshuvah is only for aveiros which involve a deed, such as immorality and theft. Rather, just as one must do Teshuvah from these, he must also search through his bad Middos--whether anger, hatred, jealousy, levity, money-seeking, honor-seeking, food lusting, and the like and do Teshuvah. In fact, Teshuvah for Middos Ra’os is harder than Teshuvah over particular deeds, because a person is so absorbed and involved in his Middos, that it is difficult for him to become a different person. Nevertheless this is what is required of us--as the Navi teaches--”Ya’azov Rasha Darko, Ve’Ish Aven Machshivosav, VeYashov Ehl Hashem…!”



TIMELY ADVICE: The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 606, seif katan1) writes that although one must always act his friend for mechila immediately after having hurt or offending him, there is a special chiyuv to do so before Yom Kippur--as the Torah requires Lifnei Hashem Titharu on Yom Kippur, and we cannot purify ourselves before Hashem relating to an aveirah of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro without first obtaining mechila from the person offended. Indeed, not even the Se’ir Hamishtalei’ach could effect Kapparah for sins of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro! At a Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, taught that the way one asks for mechila is simply by saying ‘I was wrong’; ‘I did the wrong thing’; ‘I made a mistake’; ‘I am sorry’--but that one should be careful not to hurt a person or embarrass him when asking for mechila.



SOME NEW KABBALOS SUGGESTIONS [Also See Special Note Three Below]:


A. Be a ‘Walking Mitzvah’--carry something with you which can always be used for the express purpose of a Chesed at any time--some extra stamps, a pen, a check or two designated for tzedakah use. [Think of the utter joy you put on a collector’s face when he anticipates receiving a quarter or dollar in shul--and instead receives a $10 check!]


B. Personalize a Kabbalah relating to a family member or friend--if a particular habit or method of speech he has constantly annoys to you--work on being ma’avir ahl midosav relating to it.


C. Once a day, take the second choice of the food you were going to eat, rather than your first choice, in order to practice quashing one’s desires.


D. Before starting work every day, begin with a  prayer to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. By the following link, we once again provide a Tefillah formulated by a reader, which you are of course free to use or adapt  http://tinyurl.com/cqqbomd


E. Rebbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches that when we recite Shema, we are accepting upon ourselves both Ohl Malchus Shomayim and Ohl Mitzvos. Accordingly, rather than walking out of Shul immediately after having recited Shema at Ma’ariv--we should spend at least another five minutes in Shul studying Torah--to demonstrate that we are taking the Ohl Malchus Shomayim and Ohl Mitzvos seriously!



TAKE SOMETHING OUT OF THE HOUSE: As we had noted in the name of HaRav Gifter, Z’tl, in the past, it may be a good idea to look around the house, find something that does not belong--and remove it!


YOM KIPPUR INITIATIVE: By the following link  http://tinyurl.com/ke5jqy5  we provide the 5775 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!



HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1. One must eat at least a kezayis of bread in the Succah on the first night of Succos MeD’oraysah (in Chutz La’aretz one must eat a kezayis on the second night as well). Lechatchila one should eat this kezayis within two minutes, but in no event should one delay more than four minutes. There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether we compare the eating of bread on the fifteenth of Succos to the eating of Matzah on the fifteenth of Nissan to the extent that one should taste the bread and should accordingly not dip it into honey. The Yad Eliyahu rules that one should not eat it with honey because it takes away the taste of the bread, just as we do not do anything to take away the taste of the Matzah on the night of the Seder. However, HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl and HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rule that we do not take the limud from Matzah that far, as there the eating of the Matzah is the mitzvah itself, whereas on Succos the Ikar Mitzvah is sitting in the Succah through the eating of the bread. Indeed, to the contrary, there may be room to eat the Challah with honey to show Chibuv Mitzvah and perhaps for Simchas Yom Tov. For one who wants to be choshesh for the shitah not to eat with honey, he may eat a kezayis without honey, and then a kezayis with honey (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639:1, Dirshu Notes 29,30).


2. The G’ra holds that there is a Mitzvah to eat Matzah all seven days of Pesach. The Mishna Berurah writes that he has a safeik as to the opinion of the G’ra on Succos--i.e., as to whether there is also a Mitzvah Lechatchila to eat bread on each one of the seven days of Succos and to make the bracha of Leisheiv BaSuccah together with it (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 24).


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


A.  The extremely essential words of the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvoda relating to Inui on Yom Kippur--and what to think about if one starts to become hungry or thirsty.  The statement can be found at  http://tinyurl.com/pu8a4te   Please spread the word.


Hakhel Note:  As Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches, it is not your job to watch the clock--it is your job to make the most out of Yom Kippur for yourself, your family, your community, and for all of K’lal Yisrael!


B.  We received an important message based upon the words of the Chofetz Chaim, which also includes extremely valuable words of Chizuk and encouragement. If one does not have time to read all of the text, we highly recommend that one at least read the words of Chizuk and encouragement, which are so noge’ah lema’aseh. The message is available at  http://tinyurl.com/csvr3fh


C.  A Viduy Card in Lashon HaKodesh with more detailed specification as to possible Aveiros.  http://tinyurl.com/4yzr9u


D.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in Lashon HaKodesh.  http://tinyurl.com/2d63u8


E.  The Thirteen Middos--The Thirteen Attributes in English.  http://tinyurl.com/yq9k42 


Hakhel Note:  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (Moadim I, p. 214) points out that when reciting the Thirteen Middos, we should feel HaKaras HaTov to Hashem for acting towards us in this way--this, in turn, will inspire us to act with similar middos to others as well(which we should bli neder be mekabel upon ourselves!).


F.  We once again provide a  great Tefillah for Teshuvah--which you may insert at the end of your Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei http://tinyurl.com/2dm686

The Tefillah is published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year!



Special Note Two  The following wonderful thought is excerpted from a publication known as TT #385--Viduy: 


“Remember, that Teshuva is one of the greatest gifts of Hashem to us. It is the expression of His Divine Mercy and Love.  If He did not want us to straighten ourselves out, He would simply punish us for transgressions without giving us a second (and third and fourth and fifth...) chance to repent. Our motivations for Teshuva should be fear AND love of Hashem. The challenge is awesome, but it is always possible for one to change for the better. Step by step, a bit at a time. Never be discouraged by what seems to be too formidable a task. Be encouraged by the fact that this is what Hashem wants of us--not to punish us, but for us to return to Him in strengthened faith, in better performance of Mitzvos--qualitatively and quantitatively, and to more carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin--between Hashem and ourselves and in our interpersonal relationships.



Special Note Three:  By this time one should be placing some focus on bli neder his Kabbalos for the coming year.  May we suggest that there should be at least one Kabbalah in each of the following areas:  Bain Adam LaMakom, Bain Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bain Adam L’Atzmo.

Hakhel Note:  It is well known that Rav Pam Z’TL would urge his talmidim to keep a ‘kabalos card’ which listed the initiatives that each person took upon himself in his Teshuvah process. The kabalos card could either serve as a personal diary of success, or at least a written Teshuvah reminder to be viewed regularly. As in the past, we provide you below with some sample kabalos, both Bain Adam LaMakom and Bain Adam L’Chaveiro from which you may choose.  With respect to Bain Adam L’Atzmo--a person must look deeply into himself and decide which Middah it is that needs the most improvement--improving in Sever Panim Yaffos, the areas of ka’as, ta’avah, hakpadah…. Here, we leave it up to a person’s literal soul-searching of his own. Remember, the inescapable reality-that the ability to do Teshuvah is in your hands alone!


Bain Adam LaMakom

Have Kavannah in the first p’sukim of Shema

Bench slowly from a bencher

Keep a brief diary of your mitzvos/aveiros at the end of the day

Learn at least two halachos a day

Have Kavannah in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei

Avoid talking politics/sports/business or about people at the Shabbos table

Say Asher Yatzar with Kavannah at least twice a day

Refrain from reading secular newspapers or magazines

Say Modim with Kavannah for all the goodness given by Hashem

Establish a seder in learning before going to work

Daven all three tefilos with a minyan

Begin learning Hilchos Shabbos from any sefer


Bain Adam L’Chaveiro

Make a list of cholim and say Tehillim every day for them

Speak courteously (hello, please, thank you, Good Shabbos) to your family and strangers

Help a single person with a shidduch

Especially guard your tongue from Lashon Hara for at least one designated hour a day

Do a chesed that nobody knows about once a day

Avoid making a sharp, angry or witty remark at least one time a day

Stand up for rabbonim, parents or elders

Compliment someone at least one time a day

Compromise with others/ judge others favorably at least one time a day

Give Tzedaka every time you raise your voice or speak Lashon Hara

Learn the halachos of bein adam l’chaveiro (bikur cholim, shmiras halashon, nichum aveilim, etc.)


On the Bain Adam L’Chaveiro level, may we remind everyone of the Chofetz Chaim’s teaching that in the future everyone will be healed--except for the Ba’al Lashon Hara!


Additional Note: One may want to consider suggesting a family or extended family Kaballah, which every adult/older child participates in. A choice can be made from the list above, or of course, can be developed by the family itself!


A final thought on our Kabalos: Remember, the Torah tells us “U’Vacharta BaChaim—Choose Life”.  Incredibly, Hashem puts our lives in our own hands.



Special Note Four:  Please remember VeTalmud Torah K’negged Kulam.  We remind everyone that a person can utilize his own resources to help increase his joy in Torah learning.  For instance, some have the habit of vigorously (or even gently) shaking their legs to and fro as they sit and learn.  This may create an aura of nervousness and impatience which is antithesis of happiness in Torah study.  Thus, may we suggest that a person try to curb his habit in this regard.  Others may have the custom of keeping their Blackberries handy and examining the cause of its vibration every few minutes.  If one wants to express and appreciate his Torah learning, he may want to try the exercise of keeping his phone on silent or turned off from the time he is in Shiur or otherwise occupied with Torah study.  Hakhel Note:  The story is told of how HaRav Aryeh Levin, Z’tl, wanted to visit some Jewish visitors being held by the British.  The British guard on duty would not let them in that day.  The Jewish guard who was working together with the British guard advised the Britain that the Rabbi was a righteous person and simply wanted to visit the prisoners out of the goodness of his heart--and that it was wrong not to let him in.  The Britain mocked him and said that he was obviously a salaried worker who was happy to go home while still getting paid.  A few minutes later they noticed HaRav Levin sneaking into the compound through a different door when he thought no one was looking.  The Britain remarked:  “Now I see that he is a righteous person--and he is not doing it for the money!”  We must realize that it is the extra effort that distinguishes between our ‘having to do something’ and the love of Torah and Mitzvos that should truly be part of our fiber and being!



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



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



Special Note Seven: Additional important Pre-Yom Kippur points and pointers:


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


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


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


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


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



7 Tishrei

QUESTION OF THE DAY : What is the last word of Avinu Malkeinu?  Why do think that it is fitting that we end Avinu Malkeinu with this word?



SAY “THANK YOU!”: It is said that HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl was asked for a segula for the Yemei HaDin.  He responded that every morning we recite the following words in Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis:  “Hayodecha Afar HaYagid Amitecha--will the dust thank You, will it speak of Your truthfulness...?”  If one thanks Hashem properly, he concluded--he can very literally keep himself alive--for this is very much part of being alive!


Hakhel Note: Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita once said that he knew of an extended family which, when getting together, would always begin with Tehillim Chapter 111-as an expression of thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for enabling them to join together for a Simcha or for a Yom Tov meal.  Rabbi Wachsman added that the word Shevach means praise, and that the closely related word Sh’vach means to improve--for we improve ourselves and our lot when we express the proper Shevach to Hashem.



RABBI BELSKY’S THOUGHT: At a Hakhel Yom Iyun, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, elaborated on the concept of being more machmir in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. He explained that the concept is really for a person to elevate himself a notch above his ‘ordinary life’. One does so by making an additional exertion, taking an extra effort, perhaps even undergoing a bit of strain in order to raise himself up during this period. The example given in Shulchan Aruch (603) is not to eat pas shel akum. Rabbi Belsky suggests that another example of something one can do is not to eat his favorite food or the snack that ‘I just love’. This extra effort, this exertion is to teach one that he does have the ability, he does have the kochos, to rise above his present state! Hakhel Note:  HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, taught that an important avodah of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah period is ressen piv--being more careful with what goes in and out of one’s mouth.  You need not say it, you need not have it. Simply stated, a person can elevate himself above his current situation--but it is not by an electronic or other device that he does so--it is by the strength of character that Hashem has blessed him with.





1. For women: Try to light Shabbos candles at least five minutes before the zman, if possible.


2. For men: Pay attention during Chazaras HaShatz. (Do not look into a sefer or space out. Do not check your email or phone. Do not text. Do not stare at other people. Just listen to the baal tefilla and follow along in your own siddur.) Other than saying Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo and Amein, do not talk at all during Chazaras HaShatz. Talking during davening (or during leining) is one of the worst aveiras a Yid can do!


3. Say “Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo.” Do not only say “Shmoy” or “Baruch shmoy” (like some people do). Say it correctly. And don’t start saying ‘Baruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo’ until the baal tefilla finishes pronouncing Hashem’s name completely. Also, do not say Amein until the baal tefilla finishes pronouncing the bracha completely.


4. Talk to Hashem throughout the day, not just three times a day.


5. Before davening, accept upon yourself the positive commandment of “You shall love your fellow as yourself.” [Arizal]


6. Before going to sleep at night, say (or at least think), “I am going to sleep so that I will have energy to serve Hashem tomorrow.”


7. Learn Torah out loud if possible (not merely reading the sefer with your eyes, but actually verbalizing the words).


8.Be careful with Al Hamichya.  Sit down while saying it, preferably from a siddur/ bencher.

9. Finish my Shabbos preparations in time to start Shabbos by candle lighting time, with a clean kitchen (or at least, an orderly one).

10. Commit to following a derech –  Seek out hadracha and try to let go of the need to have everything make sense to me on an intellectual level.  It shouldn’t be all about whether I understand; I need to remember that sometimes the brain needs to follow and not lead.  This is difficult for me, since I was always taught to think for myself, and it’s been a significant part of who I am.  It’s going to take effort, but I want to commit to the ideal, and work on getting there…




HILCHOS SUKKOS: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos:


1.  Although one is not required to drink water in the Sukkah, if one is close to the Sukkah and would like to drink some water, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, teaches that it would appear that he should enter the Sukkah--for a Sukkah must be treated as a home, and just as a person close to home would wait until he gets home to drink, so too, should he enter the Sukkah in order to fulfill the Halacha of Taishvu Ke’ain Taduru--dwelling in the Sukkah as one dwells in his home (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639, Dirshu Note 13).


2. Some Poskim rule that on the Yom Tov of Sukkos one should place a tablecloth only his table in the Sukkah, and not on his table in the house--in order to indicate that the house is not his dira over Sukkos. Others, however, hold that one can put a tablecloth on even in the home LeKavod Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 639, Dirshu Note 4).   One is required to promptly remove used food containers from the Sukkah. Although when one finishes Shalosh Seudos close to the end of Shabbos during the year, one generally does not clean-off the table so that it is not a hachanah for after Shabbos. However, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that it is permissible to remove the used utensils from the Sukkah in such a situation, because it is clear that one is doing so for the Kavod of the Sukkah.




Special Note One: We provide a few brief notes below from the Sefer Kovetz Halachos: Yomim Noraim by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, containing the pesokim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita.  Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek relating to his particular facts, circumstances, and customs:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


10.  Each time we recite Viduy it is a separate Mitzvah, and one should have Kavannah that he is being mekayem the Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah of Viduy.  One Viduy is not me’akev any other.  Children should also be taught to recite Viduy.  In the aggregate, one who recites Viduy in shul will have recited ten Viduyim which, the Tur (Orach Chaim 620) writes, corresponds to the ten times that the Kohein Gadol mentions the Ineffable Name on Yom Kippur.  If a person is davening at home, he need not make up the Viduyim that would be otherwise recited in Chazaras HaShatz.  


11.  VeAhl Kulam Eloak Selichos is not part of the Vidui, and need not be recited in a bowed position.


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


13.  One beats his chest when reciting the words of Ashamnu as well as when reciting the words Shechatanu in the Al Chait, and the words Al Chatayim at the end of the Al Cheit.  Additionally, one should also beat his chest when mentioning any specific sin that he adds on his own. 


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


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


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


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


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



Other email archives