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17 Marcheshvan



1. Gourmet Basics Smart Fries (Air Popped Potato Sticks). Although there is no bracha on the label, the Company has advised us by email that its certifying agencies (the OU, and the CRC) have ruled that the appropriate bracha on this product is Shehakol.


2. Grab1 Fiber Nutrition Bar. Although the product does have whole grain rolled oats and peanuts listed in the ingredients, the OU has confirmed to us that its position is that the bracha on this product is Shehakol.



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



IMPORTANT WEBSITE! Neshamos.org provides a very special remembrance of the approximately 1 million children murdered in the Holocaust. The site provides a very special Mishna campaign--with the goal of learning 1 million Mishnayos, and other resources.



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



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



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



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




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


1.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 320, seif katan 12) rules that if one is eating grapes or olives on Shabbos, he should put the entire grape or olive into his mouth and chew it then, rather than suck on it when it is only partially in his mouth, because of issues relating to Sechita on Shabbos.


2.  Pomegranate juice has become a popular health food.  Since it may be obvious that you are taking it for health reasons--is it permissible to take on Shabbos?  We believe that one can draw the appropriate response to this question from the following excerpt from Halachos of Refuah on Shabbos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita: “One may not take an enema on Shabbos.  Even though taking an enema does not necessarily involve medicine, nevertheless, since it looks like a therapeutic procedure, and there are medicines for constipation, if it were permitted, people might mistakenly assume that taking medicines is also permitted.   According to some Poskim, one may use plain water (without any additives) as an enema for constipation.  However, if the constipation is so severe that one feels weak all over, or one feels so incapacitated that he cannot function, he is permitted to use any type of enema, but should insert it by way of shinui.  More often than not, constipation is not incapacitating, in which case an enema may not be taken.  Nevertheless, if one can cure his constipation by taking a long walk, or by eating regular foods that are natural laxatives, such as stewed prunes, prune juice, licorice tea, or high-fiber cereal he may do so, since these are activities of healthy people, and would not be confused with taking medicine.”


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


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



Special Note Two:  Several points and pointers on Parashas Vayeirah:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Special Note Three:  As we contemplate Avrohom Avinu’s acts of Chesed in Parashas Vayeirah, we provide the following notes:


1.  Here is a good thought to keep in mind: “Zechus Kadima La’asos Tova L’mi She’asa Imcha Ra’ah”--one should try to make it a priority to do Chesed to those who have not performed Chesed with you--and to the contrary may have even hurt you.  You are thereby raising the bar with none other than yourself!


2.  The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes that when Dovid HaMelech writes that “Olam Chesed Yiboneh--the world is built on Chesed” (Tehillim 89:23)--it does not mean that one must perform incredible feats, or spend excessive amounts.  Rather, the Pele Yoetz advises, that one also performs a Mitzvah De’oraysa when opening the door for one who is knocking, making change for someone, or simply extending a hand when needed.  One’s thought and focus simply has to be in the right place.


3.  The following story was related to us by one of our readers (a Rav).  He had the honor of driving HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita from Philadelphia to another city to give a Shiur.  When stopping off for gas along the way, the driver asked the gas station attendant to check the oil.  It was pouring rain.  The attendant, who could hardly speak English, lifted the hood and motioned that he would need a minute to do something else first.  Upon hearing this, the driver told HaRav Kamenetsky that he was going to move the car underneath the station overhang, so that the exposed engine and wires would not get wet.  HaRav Kamenetsky immediately turned to him and said “No, no…you should move the car under the overhang so that the attendant does not get wet!”


4.  As we have noted in the past, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, z’tl would urge people to perform a private Chesed--i.e., a Chesed that others did not know about--every day.  


5.  The Chofetz Chaim in his Sefer Ahavas Chesed writes that one must love Chesed (as in the name of his Sefer), and not act out of a feeling of pressure (that person is so desperate for my help, how could I say no) or because he is required to do so.  If one loves Chesed, the Chofetz Chaim writes, he will search for ways and means to do good to his fellow man on his own, just as a father seeks to help his son even if he has not been asked for it.  Moreover, when a person feels a love for this mitzvah, he will motivate, encourage, inspire and arouse others to become engaged in similar and even different acts of Chesed as well.


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



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



16 Marcheshvan

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


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



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

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


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


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


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



Special Note Two:  Today, 16 Marcheshvan is the Fourteenth Yahrzeit of HaRav Schach, Z’tl (HaRav Elazar Menachem Mann B’R’ Ezriel).  It is well known that Rav Schach wrote in his Tzava’a that anyone who learned from him, any of his ‘talmidim’ who gained from him either in Torah, Yiras Hashem, or Midos, should do Chesed with him and learn a Mishna or a Machshava of Mussar, and that in turn, Rav Schach will do what he can to be Meiltiz Tov for those who do so. On this note, we provide the following teaching of HaRav Schach on this week’s Parasha: Chazal (Shabbos 127 A) teach that welcoming guests is greater than greeting the Shechina, as we see from Avrohom Avinu in the beginning of this week’s Parasha-- as he left his audience with Hashem in order to greet the wayfarers.  How could this be, Rav Schach asks?  After all, does not the Mesilas Yesharim teach that the whole goal of life is to come closer to the Shechina?!  Rav Schach explains that Avrohom Avinu was initially only standing in front of Hashem.  By running to greet the potential guests, he was doing better than ‘merely’ standing in front of the Shechina--for he was emulating the Shechina with his act of Chesed, thereby binding and becoming one (Kevayachol) with Hashem, rather than Hashem standing only in front of him.


Hakhel Note: Of the Thirteen Attributes of Hashem that we are to emulate, two of them involve Chesed--’Rav Chesed’ and ‘Notzer Chesed’. If one would think about it from a parent-child perspective, a parent would have much greater Nachas from the child doing what the parent does--rather than the child simply being together with him in his presence! 


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



15 Marcheshvan

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





In last week’s Parasha:


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



14 Marcheshvan

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



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





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


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


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



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



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




Special Note One:  A few important parting lessons from Parashas Lech Lecha:


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


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


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


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



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


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



Special Note Three: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (12:2) provides a great lesson for us in the incredible effects of unity--or at least one’s own personal sincere attempts to obtain it:  “Before davening one should have especial kavannah to genuinely accept upon himself the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha.  For when there is separation among K’lal Yisrael below, then there is no unity in the heavens either. Conversely, when we unite with our fellow Jews below, it causes the souls above to be united--and this oneness also allows our Tefillos to become united as they reach the heavens. When our Tefillos are united, they are pleasing to Hashem.


Hakhel Note:  This demonstration of Bain Adam L’Chaveiro, then, directly branches to Bain Adam L’Makom--and produces huge gains--Bain Adam L’Atzmo!



13 Marcheshvan

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What will I do better today than I did yesterday?  --





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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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



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




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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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


10 Marcheshvan




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



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



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




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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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



Special Note Five: Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Lech Lecha:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


H.  More on Davening at a Bris: HaRav Eliyahu Guttmacher, Z’tl, brings in his notes to the

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


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



9 Marcheshvan

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


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



Special Note Two: The following notes are excerpted from the Mishna Berurah Hilchos Birchos Hashachar (Dirshu Edition):


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



8 Marcheshvan

MORE ON THE FIRST BRACHA: Rashi (Bereishis 12:2) teaches that important words in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei correspond to Hashem’s words of bracha to Avrohom at the outset of the Parasha. The bracha of V’e’escha LeGoy Gadol (I will make you into a great nation) corresponds to Elokei Avraham, Va’avarechecha (I will bless you) corresponds to Elokei Yitzchak, and VeAgadlah Shemecha (I will make your name great) corresponds to Elokei Ya’akov. In an audio-visual presentation that was shown on the life of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, the point was made that HaRav Elyashiv would have special Kavannah when mentioning the Avos in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei. We should take this teaching to heart, and not gloss over our reference to each one of the Avos at the outset of the bracha. Perhaps we can even write into our Siddur the great three brachos mentioned above to which each of Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak and Elokei Ya’akov refer. We can also think about the great Middos of the Avos to which we are scions--the Chesed of Avraham and  the Gevurah of Yitzchak--which are brought so to the fore in this week’s Parasha (can we try to visualize it?)…and the Emes of Yaakov in the weeks to come!



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




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


1.  Truly relevant or at least important;


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


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


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



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



Special Note Three: The following notes are excerpted from the Mishna Berurah Hilchos Birchos Hashachar (Dirshu Edition):


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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



7 Marcheshvan

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 the following link http://tinyurl.com/c3kcn6k two printed Tefillos that have been distributed relating to a bris. In addition, one should recite the Chapter of Tehillim which mentions the word Sheminis in it. Some say this is Tehillim Chapter 6, and others Tehillim Chapter 12. If you can--perhaps say both!



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



L’HOSIR MICHSHOL: It has come to our attention that many well-intentioned individuals do not know how to properly tovel keilim. They may take the time and make the effort to tovel their newly purchased food utensils--but are not aware of halachos (found directly and specifically in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah)--which could render their tevilah invalid, the bracha made a bracha levatala, and the ongoing usage of the keilim prohibited. There are important seforim published in Hebrew and English which could be extremely helpful--and which provide important need-to-know guidance in this area.  By the following link  http://tinyurl.com/nr4y6qz  we provide just several tevilah alerts as provided in the past.




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





 Everything that happens is from Hashem, 

and has its reason.

Our job is to turn 

what seems like a mess,

into His message.





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



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


1.         “Baruch…Chacham HaRazim”

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


2.         “Baruch…Shechalak Meichachmaso LiReiav”

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


3.         “Baruch…Shechalak MiKevodo LiRayov”

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


4.         “Baruch…Shehechiyanu V’Kiyemanu”

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


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




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

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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



6 Marcheshvan

KAVANNAH POINTER: This past Motza’ei Shabbos Hakhel Tehillim Gathering, at which bli ayin hara, hundreds of men and women recited all of Sefer Tehillim was truly a moving demonstration of selfless Ahavas Yisrael. As the days pass, one should not be fatigued, nor should he allow the tzibbur he may be reciting Tehillim with to do so by rote, as he or they continues to recite the potent Kepitelech 83, 121, 130 and 142. After all, these Kepitelech are our great weaponry--with tremendous effects!  One way that one can keep his focus and concentration is by pointing to each word, word by word--recognizing how precious and important each word truly is!





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


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



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



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.



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!



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



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


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



WOMEN--PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD--STARTING THIS WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2015!  The Hakhel Women’s Wednesday Morning Halacha Series in Boro Park will commence October 21st from 10AM to 11AM at Agudah of 18th Avenue, 5413 18th Avenue. The Series will be given by Dayan Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, followed by Questions and Answers.  The Shiurim will be on Hilchos Refuah B’Shabbos.


Topics Include:


• How Does One Define a Sick Person With Regard to Shabbos and Yom Tov

• What Are the Differences Between Shabbos and Yom Tov With Regard to Medication and Performing a Melacha

• What Are the Differences Between a Very Sick Person and a Person That Has a Headache With Regard to Shabbos

• If One Needs to Call Hatzalah / Doctor - How Should One Use the Phone

• If a Sick Person Needs One to Turn on the Light, What Should One Do

• If One Has a Sick Child What Melachos May One Do For Him

• Is One Permitted to Go With a Sick Person to the Hospital

• If a Sick Person Needs to Go to the Hospital Does It Make a Difference Which Hospital He Goes to

• Is One Permitted to Heat Up Food for a Sick Person

• Is One Permitted to Shake Down a thermometer In Order to Take a Person’s Temperature

• Is One Permitted to Use a Fever Tester

• What Is the Prohibition of Taking Medicine on Shabbos

• Contemporary Shailos and Teshuvos 


Admission to this great Halacha Series is free. For further information please call: 718-253-5497. For CDs: 718-435-5793. Please spread the word--so that no one is left out!



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




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


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


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



Special Note Two:  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!



3 Marcheshvan

PLEASE REMEMBER--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. Let us have this thought in mind as we recite these words in Shemone Esrei. 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!


Additional Hakhel Notes On The Period Of Time We Are In:


A. HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, points out that much of what has occurred in Eretz Yisrael has been ‘on the street’. He accordingly urges each individual to actively and dedicatedly engage in Shemiras Einayim. Hakhel Note: Perhaps each one of our acts on the street will save one of our brothers from another kind of act.


B. As we are looking for Hashem to forgive us for any of our misdeeds, it is certainly an auspicious time for us to forgive others for their misdeeds.


C. HaRav Mordechai Schwab, Z’tl, of Monsey, once reported: “My Rebbi, Rebbi Boruch Ber of Kaminetz, Z’tl, would say that when the Chofetz Chaim said the words: ‘Ani Ma’amin B’Emunah Sheleima’, he would emphasize in a loud voice the word Sheleima. He was teaching that our Emunah must be complete, and the way for it to be complete is not only by talking about it, but by feeling it in our everyday lives!”


D. HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, provides a remarkable teaching from his Rebbi, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl: Just as we were redeemed from Egypt, we will be redeemed in the future. One who wants to pass through the Chevlei Moshiach, which include ‘pachodim v’chavalim’ (terror and attacks), must be oseik in Torah and in Gemilas Chasodim, as Chazal expressly provide (Sanhedrin 98B). When fulfilling the Mitzvah of Gemilas Chasodim, one should specifically recall that by doing so he is mekayeim the Mitzvah of V’Halachta Bidrachav. In doing so, it is insufficient to simply perform an act of Chesed--but to do so in a way in which you demonstrate that you feel the other person’s pain and that you are attempting to help alleviate it in some way. After all, the reason that we are in Galus is because of the sin of Sinas Chinam. When we work on ourselves to develop the Chesed to the extent that we are one with the person in need, we are correcting that mistake, worthy of being saved of the Chevlei Moshiach…and worthy of Geulah! Hakhel Note: When davening for Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael let us be sure to experience the oneness with them.



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.



WOMEN--PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD--STARTING NEXT WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2015!  The Hakhel Women’s Wednesday Morning Halacha Series in Boro Park will commence October 21st from 10AM to 11AM at Agudah of 18th Avenue, 5413 18th Avenue. The Series will be given by Dayan Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, followed by Questions and Answers.  The Shiurim will be on Hilchos Refuah B’Shabbos.


Topics Include:


• How Does One Define a Sick Person With Regard to Shabbos and Yom Tov

• What Are the Differences Between Shabbos and Yom Tov With Regard to Medication and Performing a Melacha

• What Are the Differences Between a Very Sick Person and a Person That Has a Headache With Regard to Shabbos

• If One Needs to Call Hatzalah / Doctor - How Should One Use the Phone

• If a Sick Person Needs One to Turn on the Light, What Should One Do

• If One Has a Sick Child What Melachos May One Do For Him

• Is One Permitted to Go With a Sick Person to the Hospital

• If a Sick Person Needs to Go to the Hospital Does It Make a Difference Which Hospital He Goes to

• Is One Permitted to Heat U\up Food for a Sick Person

• Is One Permitted to Shake Down a thermometer In Order to Take a Person’s Temperature

• Is One Permitted to Use a Fever Tester

• What Is the Prohibition of Taking Medicine On Shabbos

• Contemporary Shailos and Teshuvos 


Admission to this great Halacha Series is free. For further information please call: 718-253-5497. For CDs: 718-435-5793. Please spread the word--so that no one is left out!



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



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




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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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



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


We provide the following additional reminders relating to Kiddush Levana:


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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



2 Marcheshvan

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



STRENGTHENING OUR EMUNAH: In these times, when we seek to strengthen our Emunah, we remind our readers that Rabbi David Ashear, Shilta, continues to provide wonderful and meaningful essential Emunah lessons on a daily basis. To join and for further information contact:  emunadaily@gmail.com.  The recording is available via telephone as well:  Dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886#.





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


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


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


4. When we recite Tehillim for the Matzav in Eretz Yisrael, are we also fulfilling the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, as after all Tehillim is one of the 24 Sifrei Tanach? We await your responses.


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


6. In order to demonstrate to one’s family or roommates the changed nature of the world around us at this time, we should consider reciting a Perek of Tehillim with those who may be present upon our arrival at home.


7. Let us remember that although whatever happens is a gezeirah min hashomayim, the ruthless and barbaric acts of terror will be punished by Hashem, just as Hashem punished the Mitzriyim for their wanton acts. As we recite in the Av HaRachamim Tefillah (Devorim 32:43): “…Ki Dam Avadav YikomV’Nakam Yashiv L’Tzarav Vechiper Admaso Ammo--for He will avenge the blood of His servants and He will bring retribution upon His foes; and He will appease His land and His people.” May we see it in our day!



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



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




Special Note One: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:




A. The Twelfth Middah we are to emulate is Asher Nishbata La’avoseinu--Hashem provides mercy to us even if we are not personally deserving, in the zechus of our Avos. We recite this every day in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei with the words V’Zocher Chasdei Avos U’Meivi Go’el Livnei Veneihem. HaKadosh Baruch Hu made it a point to promise our Geulah to the Avos so that we would not be left alone. The Middah that we are to emulate here is that even if one treats us improperly, unfairly, and even with ostensible malice--we should nevertheless recognize that even if he is meritless, he comes from good ‘stock’ and not deal with him cruelly or disgracefully. Instead, one should have a feeling of mercy, recognizing that he too is one of the children of Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov and one who disgraces the children, c’v disgraces the fathers as well. Accordingly, one should cover his iniquity and assist and guide him as much as possible.


B. The Thirteenth Middah is Mimei Kedem--from days of old. With this Middah, Hashem remembers not our forefathers, but how our ancestors demonstrated their love and dedication to Him. As the Pasuk (Yirmiyah 2:2) states: “Zacharti Lach Chesed Ne’urayich Ahavas Kelulosayich”. The Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, explains that when we say that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is ‘zocher’ or remembers, it means that He spreads goodness upon us, as we say in Tehillim: “Hashem Zecharanu Yevareich Yevareich Es Bais Yisrael.” Likewise, when Hashem looks at a person, He also looks at his own ‘past history’--what he has done or accomplished until today--and not only the current misdeed that he may have performed. We too should not judge a person by the immediate moment, viewing only the bad--but must also remember his good in earlier times.


C. The thrust and goal of Hashem’s Thirteen Middos of Rachamim is for Hashem to be a Maitiv with His creations. It is our role to emulate the ways of Hashem and follow suit. If we do so, we will bring Hashpa’os Tovos from above to the whole world!


D. As we plead in these days for Rachamei Shomayim in our Tefillos, we must always remember that Hashem has established our world with the concept of Middah K’negged Middah. If we follow the Thirteen Middos of Rachamim, as briefly outlined in this series, and as so beautifully and meaningfully described in the Sefer Tomer Devorah (a new English translation has recently been published and is available in Seforim stores), then, in addition to the Hashpa’os Tovos we ourselves have brought to the world--Hashem will certainly, on a Middah K’negged Middah basis, shower us with His Hashpa’os Tovos as well!



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


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


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


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


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


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


A.  Yes, within the bracha.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



1 Marcheshvan

FROM A READER: “My niece’s father in-law was murdered in a terror attack today [yesterday] in Yerushalayim. Please daven for RACHAMIM!”



ON TEHILLIM RECITATION: One may find it difficult to recite the same Chapters of Tehillim several (or even many) times during the day. It should be pointed out that perhaps the two most often repeated Chapters, 121 and 130, are actually mentioned as the basis for additional brachos that were instituted by Chazal when public fasts were instituted (Ta’anis 15A). It is essential, absolutely essential, that we not tire--but instead invigorate and reinvigorate ourselves with the ever-powerful messages of:


1. Ezri Mei’im Hashem Osei Shomayim Va’aretz--my help can only come from Hashem, Who created the heavens and the earth…. As we have noted in the past, HaRav Feivel Cohen, Shlita, teaches that Hashem as Creator of the heavens and the earth can solve any problem--even a problem as seemingly insolvable as the one we are in.


2. Kivisi Hashem Kivesa Nafshi--I put my hope in Hashem, I put my hope…. We must not develop the false attitude that our Tefillos are ineffective or for naught. We must not despair. Instead, we follow the path of our Avos--to daven, and daven and daven again.


3. MiShomerim Laboker Shomerim LaBoker--Longing for the dawn, longing for the dawn. We have come to this point--and from this moment of darkness there will come light. The period of Chevlei Moshiach will end, and we will get to the Yemos HaMoshiach and beyond!



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


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



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


Hakhel Note: Here is a basic mathematics question for Torah Jews:  If a man studies three Mishnayos, or a man or woman studies three Halachos, after Mincha or Ma’ariv, or perhaps before retiring for the evening, every day in the year 5776, how many Mishnayos or Halachos will he have learned by the end of the Year?  A more advanced question--if, instead, one begins this study on the first day of Marcheshvan--one month after 5776 has begun, and undertakes the same study until the first day of Marcheshvan of 5776--how many Mishnayos or Halachos has one studied?



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



RULINGS OF HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA: In a special edition of the Divrei Siach, Rav Yitzchok Goldshtoff, Shlita, reports that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky’s son, Rav Yitzchok Shaul, Shlita, wrote the following four rulings of HaRav Chaim, and that HaRav Chaim reviewed them and authorized them to be made known to the public:


1. One is able to travel to all Yeshivos and Shomer Mitzvah Lo Yeidah Davar Rah.


2. One should not be mistoveiv outside of the Yeshiva [it would not hurt to put a guard at the entranceway to the Yeshiva].


3. Women who help their husbands learn Torah can travel to their jobs V’Hashem Yishmor.


4. One may travel to a Simcha Shel Mitzvah if it is nitzrach.





“If you own an Israeli Esrog, please be aware of the following restrictions:


Consumption: The fruit may only be consumed in its optimum way; i.e., making jam or frying sliced Esrog. Every bit of the Esrog must then be consumed. You may not feed the Esrog to an animal or destroy or damage the Esrog. The Esrog should not be pierced with cloves, as this speeds up the drying.


Return To Eretz Yisrael: It is proper to send the Esrog back to Eretz Yisrael, where the Esrogim are collected and placed in fields, to accomplish the mitzvah of biur.


Bi’ur: If you retain the Esrog, you will be obligated to perform biur at the appropriate time. The zman biur is dictated by agricultural facts and will likely be in January. The hechsher organizations have pledged to let us know the precise timing. Until then; save the Esrog in a proper place. At the zman biur, place it in a public place (on a table in shul, for example) and declare it hefker in front of three adults. After the zman biur, you (or anyone else) may reclaim  the Esrog. You may not throw it out until it has become so dried (or rotted) that it is unfit for animal consumption. At that time, wrap it in a bag and throw it out.


We pray that the next Shemitah will be observed by all of K’lal Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, b’shalom v’shalvah.”


Hakhel Note: One should consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final p’sak in these areas.



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



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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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



30 Tishrei

KAVANNAH CARDS: An avreich in Eretz Yisrael was disturbed by the failure of men to have proper Kavannah before the monumental acts in the morning of putting on their Tallis and Tefillin. He surmised that because they were rushed in the morning they did not have sufficient time to go through the proper Kavannos. He therefore went to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, and asked for, and received approval of the abbreviated nuschaos presented by the following links--when one cannot recite the longer nuschaos which may be otherwise found in the Siddur:


Tallis/Tzitzis:  http://tinyurl.com/o7kaddq


Tefillin: http://tinyurl.com/ou6mkxb


To obtain the actual stickers, including a small display for your Shul, the contact information is provided at the Tefillin link above.




Special Note One: Points and pointers relating to Rosh Chodesh, excerpted from the Luach Davar B’Ito


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


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


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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



29 Tishrei

TEHILLIM 130: As we continue to recite Tehillim Chapter 130--Shir Hama’alos Mima’amakim with greater Kavannah on behalf of Acheinu Bais Yisrael, we should note that the Sheim of Yud Key Vuv Key appears four times (Hashem is Master of all, and Was, Is and Will Be), and the Sheim of Aleph Daled Nun Key (Hashem is Maser of all) appears three times. To demonstrate our increased concentration, let us have the appropriate Kavannah when reciting each Sheim--as exactly expressed by Dovid HaMelech with Ruach HaKodesh.




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


A.  One should wear better clothing than usual on Rosh Chodesh.  The Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah writes that one should wear at least one article of clothing which is more chashuv.  The G’ra wore his Shabbos hat on Rosh Chodesh.  Hakhel Notes:  1. It is a ma’aleh to have special clothing for Rosh Chodesh/Chol HaMoed, as both have more Kedusha than a regular weekday as evidenced by the four aliyos read on that day, as well as the Korban/Tefillas Mussaf of the day. 2. Fascinatingly, the Karbanos for Musaf on Rosh Chodesh match exactly the actual 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--already 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 Yaaleh V’Yavo after he has already recited the brocha of Bonei Yerushalayim, but prior to reciting the brocha of HaTov V’Hameitiv, he is entitled to (and should) add a new, complete bracha to his Birkas Hamazon, which is: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Asher Nosan Roshei Chodoshim L’Amo Yisrael 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 bracha 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: Although many items in the physical world remind us of spiritual roles and goals as well (e.g., food for the body teaches that we must always feed the soul with Torah and Mitzvos; physical ailments represent spiritual ailments, the beauty of nature provides an inkling of the beauty of Olam Haba, etc.), there appears to be at least one item in which the physical in no way resembles the spiritual.


Here on earth, our streets and our highways are paved with tar, and our sidewalks with tar or cement. Yet, in the spiritual world, our path is paved with precious jewels, silver, and gold. The opportunities for Torah and Mitzvos, Emunah and Chesed, Teshuva and Ma’asim Tovim, impact and abound from all directions as we march through our day. Unfortunately, all too often, we write off the opportunity as a hindrance, annoyance, obligation, or as time that could have otherwise been spent doing something “productive” instead.


Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, provides a perfect example of this misperception in commenting on last week’s Parasha (“Love Your Neighbor”, p. 34). Rabbi Pliskin notes that the Torah goes out of its way to teach us that Hashem clothed Adam and Chava. We, by this, are taught to emulate Hashem’s ways in providing clothes to the needy. However, Rabbi Pliskin writes that emulating Hashem in this area goes way beyond giving clothes to the needy when we clean out our closets. It also includes other activities such as helping elderly relatives on with their clothing, making sure that they are warm for winter, and dressing toddlers and little children--even if they may be your students or your children. When viewed in this light, going shopping for the family or for a parent or neighbor on a frigid winter night, or earning the money to pay a family credit card bill become glittering diamonds in place of a banal drudgery, a necessary and seemingly thankless task.


Hashem, in his great and incomparable beneficence, gives us whatever each and every one of us needs every single day in order to build a great eternity for ourselves.  We just have to identify, appreciate and cherish each and every opportunity for the special and precious jewel that it is. World economics may be in turmoil, but we remain as spiritually affluent as ever--and these are the riches that last forever!



Special Note Four:  Also, in Love Your Neighbor, Rabbi Pliskin emphasizes another essential aspect of the concept of Chesed:  It is that man is actually created B’Tzelem Elokim--in the image of the Creator of heaven and earth.  A human being should accordingly be transformed in our eyes from ‘an inconsequential and insignificant being into one that is without parallel. ‘Although seemingly miniscule, he is the pinnacle of creation’.  Man was created in Hashem’s image and must always be viewed accordingly.”  Here are two examples that Rabbi Pliskin provides to bring the point home (ibid., p. 23): 


1. A Rabbi and his wife came to visit the Chofetz Chaim.  The wife complained to the Chofetz Chaim that her husbands good nature enabled people to take advantage of him.  “True,” said the Chofetz Chaim, “if someone is always good to others, he might sometimes suffer. However, if he were insensitive to other people, they would suffer because of him. In the long run, when a mans good and bad deeds are weighed against each other, he will realize that it is better for him to have suffered as a result of his doing good deeds to others, rather than for others to have suffered because of him.” (Amud Hachesed, p. 17)


2. Once while the Chazon Ish was walking with a disciple, a melancholy woman approached him and insisted that he take money from her to pray for her welfare.  She handed the Chazon Ish ten shillings which he readily accepted.  He blessed her wholeheartedly and cheered her with pleasant words.  When she left them, she was in good spirits.  Knowing that the Chazon Ish never accepted presents or donations from others, the disciple was puzzled why he agreed to take this womans money Noticing the puzzled look on that persons face, the Chazon Ish told him, “Everyone is required to do chesed in every possible way In this instance, the biggest chesed I could do for this woman was to accept her money.” (P’air Hadar, Vol. 4, p. 22)



26 Tishrei



A. “It is written in seforim that a man should try to have an aliyah in the Sefer Torah once a month. B’EH for over 40 years I never missed having an aliyah at least once a month.  On Friday August 28, 2015, I was taken ill to hospital. The next day, Shabbat, was the third week I did not have an aliyah in the Sefer Torah. I went to the Shul in the hospital and said Ribono Shel Olam, I cannot help it if the chain will be broken. I spent another Shabbat in the hospital--the fourth week and I said: Ribono Shel Olam Ani Mitzta’er Me’od that I will break the over 40 year chain of getting an aliya once a month. At Mincha, I went to Shul and I sat in the back row. I was wearing the hospital pajamas and in front of me there were about another 50 seats--all Hassidim, streimels, big beards, big peyot, big hats and kapotes. Keriyat Hatorah--Cohen, Levi, and then the Gabai comes to me and asks me what my name is. I was in tears. When a person honestly worries for a Mitzvah, Hashem helps him! A Gezunter Vinter!”


B. “I want to share with your readers a moirodik thought from the Divrei Chaim (Sanzer Rebbe). I heard it around 20 years ago so there may be some minor differences from what he actually said, but overall it’s an accurate rendition (I believe) of his message. After the Yomim Noyro’im he told his Chassidim a moshol of a poor woman with a large family who gathered her children around her and told them: “My children do you see this egg? From this egg we will become rich. From this egg will hatch a chick, who will grow into a hen which will lay many eggs. From these eggs will come more hens who will lay more eggs until we have so many chickens that we will sell them and buy goats. These goats will give birth to more goats until we have so many goats that we will sell them and buy cows. These cows will give birth to more cows until we have so many cows that we will sell them and buy a large farm from which we will be able to support ourselves forever.” Having made her speech the mother carelessly dropped the egg which splattered all over the floor. The Divrei Chaim asked his Chassidim: “Was this woman foolish for thinking that one can become rich from an egg? No, she was correct. However, ‘oib men hott en eih men darf heeten der eih’.”  If you have an egg, you must guard that egg. Similarly, he continued, are we silly to think that our small improvements over the Yomim Noyro’im will make us into tzaddikim? No, but we must guard them and not revert back to our old selves.”





If someone greets his friend with a pleasant face…it is considered as if he gave him all of the good presents in the world. (Avos D’Rav Nosson 13-4)


Be first to greet every person…by doing this all will love you and this is the greatest success that you can attain in this world (Pirkei Avos, Chapter 4, Mishna 15, Tiferes Yisroel)


For further information, please call 347-522-5412 or 917-482-8697.



HAKARAS HATOV! Appreciating what Hashem, and others, do for us may be the ‘Middah of the Coming Week’--as this 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 next week’s Parasha (Bereishis 10:5, Rashi d’h Bnei Ha’adam), we will find that the Anshei Dor Haflaga showed no thanks to Hashem for sparing their ancestors, themselves and their descendants from the Mabul. Let us bli neder commit to be most careful to thank, appreciate and compliment all those who deserve or even perhaps deserve Hakaras HaTov for what they have done for us or on our behalf! 




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


A. Tomorrow, it will be a week 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 things 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... make sure others can feel good in some way as well!


B.  The following is based upon the Luach Davar BeIto for tomorrow, as Shabbos Bereishis:


1.  Tosafos (Sanhedrin 37B) writes that every day of the week the Malochim sing with a different one of their six wings, and on Shabbos it is the Bnei Yisrael that sing.  Hakhel Note:  What a great thing to remember when singing Zemiros!


2.  Adam HaRishon recited “Mizmor Shir Leyom HaShabbos” (Tehillim 92) upon the onset of Shabbos just a few hours after his creation.  Hashem’s name is mentioned seven times in the Kepitel.  It became, of course, the Shir Shel Yom of Shabbos, but we recite it not one but three times over Shabbos.  Hakhel Note:  How wonderful it would be to bli neder resolve to have kavanna when reciting this Kepitel in honor of Shabbos every week!


3.  The Admorei Chabad would teach:  “The way that one behaves on Shabbos Bereishis is the way that he will behave the whole year.” 


4. This Shabbos we will bentsch Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan.  One should stand when bentsching the new month, as a remembrance to the Kiddush HaChodesh in front of the Sanhedrin.  Even though we have not begun reciting VeSein Tal U’Matar Livracha yet, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that we should add the request of “U’legeshamim BeItam”--as we always seek rain in its proper time! 


5.  We begin reciting Borchi Nafshi after Mincha this week, as it relates to Ma’aseh Bereishis, and Hashem’s greatness. 


C. 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 shows a special regard for the first Mitzvah and is accordingly an elevated Mitzvah performance (ibid., 298 seif katan 8).


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


E. Another aspect of Havdala is very much tied into the time period that we are in. The Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 298; Seif Katan 1) brings (from Pesachim 54A) that on Motza’ei Shabbos Hashem gave Adam HaRishon the thought to grind two stones against each other so that light would come out. We remember this event and make the bracha of Borei Me’orei Ha’eish over fire every Motza’ei Shabbos (ibid., seif katan 3)


F. The reason that we look at our nails upon making the bracha of Borei Me’orei Ha’eish is in order to derive benefit from the light--and because the nails are a siman bracha--as they always grow! (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 9).  If a man is too far away from the candle to obtain benefit from it during Havdala, he should have Kavannah not to be yotzei with the one making havdalah, and instead make the bracha over the ner when he is closer to it later on. A woman would not make this bracha independently, and she should endeavor to be close to the Ner.


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



Special Note Two:  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 Parashios 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 Yisrael 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, or why the Arabs are rioting now, 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 Three: 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 Four:  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 Five:  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 to him 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 Parashios--risking his life, for example, even for those who separated themselves from him. We should take all of these lessons seriously, and try to improve, over the next several weeks, upon our relationships with others--especially our own close family members. It is no coincidence (as it never is) that all the relationships described above were with close family. This is a great place to start--less painful words, less sharp criticism, less being annoyed and angry, and more of the love, appreciation, thanks, ...and a showing of true humanity!



Special Note Six: We present several questions related to the Parasha, simply in order for us to think about what the Mussar Haskel--what the lesson is from it:


A.  Adam and Chava were banished from Gan Eden--but what happened to Kayin, Hevel, and their sisters born along with them--were they left in Gan Eden?


B.  Adam had named all of the animals in creation and even his wife, yet Chava named her son Kayin--why? Additionally, why was Hevel given such a name (apparently meaning in vain, vanity, nothingness--see Koheles 3:19) at all?


C.  Rashi teaches us that all of the elements of Heaven and Earth were created on the first day of creation, and that the Malochim were created on Monday.  Why were the Malochim created after the world’s elements were put into place?


D. Why did the Rokia, the firmament above us--have to be suspended in ‘midair’--hanging precariously between the heavens and the earth?



Special Note Seven: Some additional post-Yom Tov points and pointers:


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 (which was shown again over Chol HaMo’ed)--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. At a 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!


7. After Moshiach arrives, we will return to the state of Adam HaRishon before the cheit. We most certainly look forward to this occurring in 5776!  Everyone should review and have handy (if not memorized) the four brachos that HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl said will be recited when the Moshiach arrives!



25 Tishrei


FIGHT TERROR! Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (34:5): “Darashti Es Hashem V’Anani U’Mekol Megurosai Hitzilani--I sought out Hashem and He answered me, and from all my terrors He delivered me. We suggest the recital of one Kepitel of Tehillim a day for the sake of Acheinu Kol Bais Yisrael--to be saved from terror. Our salvation does not come from armaments--but from Hashem. Let us plead!



NEW PROGRAM! Yesterday, we mentioned that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Daily Program began, on a one year cycle to finish the entire Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in small increments every day. To sign up and receive a short audio Shiur for the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Daily Program with the link to the text, email ateresshimon@gmail.com.



A SOLID SUGGESTION:  The theme of this elevated month--as the head, the lead month, of the year has been Deveikus to Hashem--bonding and binding oneself, body and soul, with his Father and King. Permeating this theme has been Teshuva--drawing close to Hashem, demonstrating one’s love and dedication--by rededicating oneself to doing His will, notwithstanding the wiles of the Yetzer Hara, whose raison d’être is literally to test one’s tenacity and perseverance. The stakes are enormous--Deveikus for eternity. We can and do retain a ‘touch’ of Tishrei throughout the year by keeping our Kabalah or Kabalos with true dedication and zeal. What can we do, however, when the Yetzer opens up new fronts--areas of unexpected confrontation and challenge? We suggest that one resolves, on a daily basis, to do Teshuva immediately for an aveira that he realizes he has committed--immediately completing the three elements of Teshuva: (a) Charata-a feeling of mistake and remorse; (b) Kabala Ahl Ha’Asid-determining not to do the aveira again if and when it presents itself; and (c) Vidui--orally admitting the mistake--how wrong for an elevated being to do such a foolish thing before Hashem Himself. If one finds that the day has passed with no such process being necessary--how happy and joyous he should be! If one has to do Teshuva (perhaps quickly recording the day and what occurred)--how wonderfully he is keeping close--not letting the day pass without his special demonstration of yearning for Deveikus.  Every day can bring wonderful gains--forever and ever!


Hakhel Note:  Additional important discussion of the value, benefit  and use of each and every day below--please continue....




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



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


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


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



Special Note Three:  Today is the 206th Yahrzeit of the Kedushas Levi (Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev), Z’tl, and the 176th Yahrzeit of the ‘Heilege’ Chasam Sofer, Z’tl.  Few individuals in recent history have achieved the level of worldwide renown, respect and love that K’lal Yisroel has for these great Gedolim. In their respective honor, we provide one telling story from each relating to the Sukkos Holiday just passed that each of us can learn from in our everyday lives:


A.  Rebbe Levi Yitzchak, Z’tl, made it a point to have simple, uneducated guests in his Sukkah, and not only great Rabbonim with whom he could have advanced discussions.  When asked why he would especially have these kinds of guests in his Sukkah, he responded as follows:  “In the future, when the Tzaddikim will be sitting in the Livyasan’s Sukkah, I will want to enter as well.  They will not let me enter, and say ‘Who are you to enter-- a simpleton wishing to enter the Livyasan’s Sukkah-- a chamber for Tzaddikim?!’ I will be able to answer--in my Sukkah I also let simple people like me enter...please let me in....”


Hakhel Note:  Why too can we not learn to appreciate, love and embrace those who may not yet be up to our level--a special incentive may be that Middah KeNeged Middah in the next world!


B.  Two Yeshiva bachurim arrived in Pressburg immediately after Sukkos to be tested by the Chasam Sofer so that they could enter the famed Pressburg Yeshiva. The first bachur entered, and the Chasam Sofer gave him various and sundry excuses as to why he could not accept him--the space is limited, etc... The second bachur (who was later to become the Gaon Rebbe Shmelke MiSeilish, Z’tl), almost did not enter because, as they had come together, it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would not be accepted, either. However, the Chasam Sofer accepted him with Sever Ponim Yofos and with joy. The Chasam Sofer explained his conduct to one of his close talmidim. When the bachurim were coming to meet him, the Chasam Sofer was looking out of the window, and noticed how the first bachur was stepping on the lulavim on the floor which previously had been hanging in the Sukkah that was now being taken down, whereas the bachur, who was to become Rebbe Shmelke, carefully picked them up and was careful not to step on any of them.


Hakhel Note:  In the past we related a similar ma’aseh with the Chasam Sofer who did not want to give Semicha to someone who did not make it his practice to kiss the Mezuzah upon entering a room.  We note that just two (or in Eretz Yisrael, three) days ago we were singing and rejoicing over the Torah and the 613 Mitzvos it contains. We must be sure to take that joy with us in the Torah and Mitzvos that we perform during the year. The thought of stepping on a Mitzvah, or of not raising a hand, a finger or a leg with energy and exuberance when we have a Mitzvah in front of us to perform may mean that we too are not worthy of entering the Yeshiva that we are capable of--and should be--entering. Knowing that we have a treasure is simply not enough--we must not let habit get the better part of us, instead making sure to be grateful for and regale in the daily privileges which are within our easy reach!


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