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29 Tishrei

IN HONOR OF ROSH CHODESH:  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…!”



REMINDER! 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!



EMULATING! 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!



IMPORTANT INSIGHTS INTO TZELEM ELOKIM:  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

ME’AFAR KUMI! Me’Afar Kumi is a wonderful weekly D’var Torah on the Parasha, and may be received weekly by email by sending a request to meafarkumi@gmail.com.

We provide this week’s English Edition by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/hj7ld59



KASHRUS ALERT! The OU has issued the following alert:



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Due to kosher violations, the OU and Rabbi Babad have immediately terminated the certification of this company. Products bearing kosher certification should not be used and should be returned for a refund.



REMINDER--NEW PROGRAM JUST STARTED! To sign up and receive a short audio Shiur for the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Daily Program with the link to the text, see the following link http://bit.ly/1FUFQQk


Hakhel Note: What a great accomplishment to complete Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in one year, in short, steady increments!



FROM A READER: “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 Yisrael)


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





A Thought For Parashas Bereishis:


“How could one NOT believe 

that Hashem created the world ....


Imagine walking into a room,

seeing a beautiful lit chandelier,  

asking how it got there,

and being told -

it just came out

 of the ceiling !!”


(Rav Shimshon Pincus, Sichos Rav Pincus - Shabbos Page 20)


To subscribe to Think Hashem Daily, email: thinkhashem@ateresshimon.org




QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK: 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?



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 descendents 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 him or on his behalf! 





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 thing are going well.... This is a great teaching in and of itself, but the Targum takes it an important step further--the Targum here translates these words to mean--’when Hashem has done good to you--be sure that you too then do good to other people --sharing and spreading that  goodness and good feeling.’ Keep this great teaching in mind for those moments of simcha in your life, and even when you really realize that you have been blessed with something or someone...and make sure others can feel good in some way as well!


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


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!



HISTORY IN THE MAKING?  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 Arab terrorism has reached such a horrific stage, 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.



FROM RAV SHACH ON CHUMASH: 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!



MAN’S HIDDEN POWER:  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!!



APPRECIATING RELATIONSHIPS:  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!





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 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 5777!  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.



USING YOUR FINGER: It is said that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, advises that davening from a Siddur and pointing with one’s finger as one progresses from word-to-word assists one with Kavannah (Hakhel Note: One would almost definitely not forget to say Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem!). May we suggest that one begin with the first bracha of Shemone Esrei--which requires special Kavannah, pointing with one’s finger from word-to-word…and B’EH continue this special finger-guided Kavannah with other brachos when one feels he is ready to do so!



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’etre is literally to test one’s tenacity and perseverence. 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!



OUR ANANEI KAVOD:  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!



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


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


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



TODAY’S YAHRZEITS: Today is the 207th Yahrzeit of the Kedushas Levi (Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev), Z’tl, and the 177th 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 Yisrael 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 had been previously hanging in the Sukkah 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!



24 Tishrei

KAVANAH CARDS! The following is a link http://tinyurl.com/hyo2lv5 to wonderful Kavanah Kards. To obtain the actual laminated cards--we refer you to KavanahKards.com.


Hakhel Note: This may be very helpful for your Kabbalah!



KITZUR SHULCHAN ARUCH YOMI!  The new cycle of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi begins today--24 Tishrei!  Students of the incredible One-Year Program actually study and complete the entire Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in one year by studying only several paragraphs a day.  As we have noted in the past, the Chofetz Chaim writes that one can fulfill the words “Vehagisa Bo Yomam VaLayla” by learning a Halacha in the morning and a Halacha in the evening.  With so many wonderful English translations of the Kitzur, it is truly a great and relatively easy opportunity to review a vast amount of Halachos over the coming year, with an investment of only several minutes per day.   Seize the Opportunity!  Hakhel Note:  Here is a beautiful example of how one’s life can be enriched through this daily study:  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (2:3) brings the Pasuk in this week’s Parasha of Ki Betzelem Elokim Asah Es HaAdam and teaches that when washing our face in the morning we should remember that we are doing so in order to honor Hashem, who created our image.  What a wonderful reminder as one washes his face--L’Sheim Shomayim--every morning! For calendars, please go to www.shemayisrael.co.il/kitzur.htm   or www.kitzuryomi.org



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



LOOKING AHEAD:  As this year’s Days of Awe and Days of Harvesting Joy can now be viewed only by turning around, we look ahead to what we will make of the coming year.  The hopes, the aspirations, the dreams...  At the end of this year, will we look back and find that we were truly better people, that we accomplished a worthwhile goal, that we fulfilled our potential in life?


In the Western Society (read “Golus”) in which we live, emphasis is placed on the physical and material reality around us, most recently, computers, smart phones, etc.  To some it may seem “childish”, to others “spiritual”, to actually take a minute or two during the day (while taking a shower in the morning or eating lunch, or perhaps when walking to the subway or bus, or before retiring at night) to think, feel and appreciate Hashem’s gifts to us.  We can start with reflecting upon our knowledge-filled heads and then work our way down slowly to the toes we can wiggle when necessary.  Do not be surprised if the words “Thank You, Hashem” emerge spontaneously from your lips from time to time.


As the Rambam testifies, this is the where and the how our forefather, Avrohom Avinu, started his trek to greatness and how concomitantly K’lal Yisrael began its eternal journey through history and mankind.  This is the origin of our legacy and sacred trust.  Be a part of it.  It only requires some inner reflection.  If you feel lost as to how to begin or are in need of some assistance or guidance in this area, the Chovos Halevovos, Sha’ar HaBechina (published by Feldheim Publishers in English as Duties of the Heart (Gate of Reflection)) will certainly be a great tool.


Now, taking a step back, perhaps this is the great lesson of Sukkos as the culmination of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—that we look up from our humble little booth and recognize that a few rain showers during the Yom Tov pale starkly in comparison to the brochos that Hashem showers upon us daily.


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





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


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


C. After seeing his Chassidim in a down mood on Motza’ei Sukkos as they were about to daven Ma’ariv, it is reported that  Rebbe Moshe Sassover, Z’tl, gave them wonderful Chizuk by exclaiming “My brothers please remember that it is the very same Hashem who is the Atta Vechartanu and the Atta Chonantanu. Hashem demonstrates to us His midda of Atta Vechartanu with the special feeling that we experience on Yom Tov…and shows us His midda of Atta Chonantanu--by giving us the wisdom, insight and understanding to get through and even succeed during all of the weekdays of the year”! As Chag Simchaseinu has just passed, we should study how we can bring Simcha with us through the rest of the year. The Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) writes as follows: “Simcha Hu Ikar Gadol B’Avoda--Simcha is an essential part of our Avodas Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 100:2) Ivdu Es Hashem BeSimcha Ba’u Lefanav Birnana--serve Hashem with joy, come before Him with joyous song! The Mesilas Yesharim then explains (from the Midrash) that when one rises to daven he should feel elation in his heart that he has the ability to pray before One to Whom there is no comparison. In fact, the Mesilas Yesharim writes that this is THE SIMCHA AMITIS--the true Simcha--that a person rejoices over the fact that has merited serving the Master of the Universe, learn His Torah and perform His Mitzvos--all of which provides a person with the true and absolute fulfillment of his potential and everlasting eternity!


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


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


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


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



12 Tishrei

KAVOD CHAVEIRO! We have spent the first ten (10) days of the month trying to increase our Kavod Shomayim. HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, reminds us that in the same measure that one is mechuyav in Kavod Shomayim--so too is he mechuyav on Kavod HaBriyos--for Kavod HaBriyos is also Kavod Shomayim!





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


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


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


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



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



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



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





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


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


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



SCHACH CARE:  Please see the following link on how to properly care for your Schach -  http://tinyurl.com/h3tys67




SUKKAH REMINDER SHEET! We provide by the following link-- http://tinyurl.com/3eyrbyu a wonderful reminder sheet that one can keep near his seat in the Sukkah, so that he can fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukkah LeChatchila each and every time!



N’OI SUKKAH!:   We provide by the following link-- http://tinyurl.com/3pznx8a  a treasure-filled message from the Mishna Berurah to post in your Sukkah or to keep close-by.  Special thanks to Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita, who printed beautiful color posters, and allowed us to copy and distribute. Hakhel Note:  One’s  Sukkah Decorations become Muktzah over Yom Tov, unless he makes a t’nai that he intends to get benefit from them (use them, eat them, etc.) over Yom Tov and/or Chol HaMoed. For the specifics of the appropriate t’nai , please consult with your Rav or Posek



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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





A. If one inadvertently left price tags on a new garment--can he remove them on Shabbos? HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one would not violate the Halacha of Makeh B’Patish if one does so, as these tags are placed on a garment after is has been completed. However, if it is not possible to wear the garment with the tags on it, then HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that one would violate Makeh B’Patish by removing them. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 302, Dirshu Note 17)


B. HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that folding papers and napkins in a special manner on Shabbos (such as in the shape of a boat or other decorative form or shape) is prohibited as Tikkun Manah. Although there may be reason to claim that it is not Tikkun Manah because it is for a one-time use, the Shevet HaLevi nevertheless writes that l’ma’aseh he only permits a simple fold. (ibid., Dirshu Note 21)


C. There is a disagreement as to how one can fold his tallis after use on Shabbos. The Mishna Berurah writes that if one does not fold it on its regular folds, it would be permitted to do so. However, continues the Mishna Berurah, it is vadai adif--certainly better for a person to be machmir upon himself and not to fold the tallis at all. (ibid., seif katan 19)


D. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is permissible to wear rubber gloves on Shabbos while washing the dishes, for one does not intend to wash the gloves, and accordingly one is considered to be washing only the dishes and not the gloves. However, the Minchas Yitzchak is lenient only for a woman whose hands have scabs and the like, and even then she should be careful not to especially clean the gloves after their use (such as by rubbing them together). (SA, OC Dirshu Note 49)


E. With respect to contact lenses, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that one should not soak them in cleaning solution on Shabbos, as they may have a din of beged, and the prohibition against cleaning a garment would apply to them (this prohibition would include rubbing them clean as well). However, if one had cleaned the lenses on Erev Shabbos and they remained clean, one could place them in a solution which does not clean them but merely keeps their moisture. This is also the opinion of the Shevet HaLevi and R’ Nissim Karelitz. (ibid.)


F. If one needs to wash a child on Shabbos after he dirtied himself, one should take care not to let the clothes which may have been sullied come into contact with water, in order to avoid kibus--cleaning the beged in any manner. (SA OC 302, Mishna Berurah seif katan 25)





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


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


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


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


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


6.  The four letters comprising the Hebrew word Lulav also comprise the first letters of words we will recite every day of Sukkos--VeTaher Lebainu LeAvdecha BeEmes--purify our heart to serve You in truth (Luach Dovor BeIto).  Let’s take the clear message and work on purifying our hearts in our very own personal way this Sukkos!





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Sefas Emes writes that we are to observe Sukkos “Seven Days of the Year”, which is meant to remarkably indicate to us that these Seven Days are sufficient to infuse us with all that we need for the coming Year.  It is for this reason that Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkos, is the date when the final ‘notes’ relating to our judgment are delivered.  By then, we have indicated to Hashem whether we have, or have not, availed ourselves of the opportunity to protect the Ruchniyus that we acquired on Yom Kippur and bring it into our homes and our workplaces. 


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


11. One may take milk or soup out of the freezer, and the Issur of Nolad is not violated on Yom Tov.  Similarly, one can bake a cake even though the mixture of ingredients was originally liquid and will turn into a solid, and it is not considered Nolad for Yom Tov purposes.


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


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


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







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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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





11 Tishrei

YOUR KABBALAH NOTEBOOK--Is everything in check?

Hakhel Note: It is said that a special Kabbalah of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, was to do something to make his Kabbalah last!



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


NOT MITZVOS ANASHIM: It is said that HaRav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl, would emphasize in his Shmuessen before Yom Kippur how important it was to rid oneself of Mitzvos performed by rote without sincerity or feeling. What an important way to start the day after Yom Kippur with a greater dedication and zeal to do at least one Mitzvah per day with specially dedicated Kavannah!



A TIMELY REMINDER:  During the very short period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos in the year that we left Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisrael were busy donating all the materials that were necessary to build the Mishkan.  The grand generosity of our ancestors during this period brought together all of the great wealth necessary to build the Mishkan before Sukkos even began (see Ba’al HaTurim, Shemos 36:6)!  We must take a lesson, based upon the principle of Ma’aseh Avos Siman L’Bonim, and use this specially endowed time to give Tzedaka to worthy causes-- both in Eretz Yisrael (as the center of Kedusha) and in your own locale. Make it a priority--for the Torah did--during this sanctified time! Remember the needy of Eretz Yisrael for Yom Tov (and to redeem your Yizkor pledges in a worthy way at yadeliezer.org. Hakhel Note: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 135) writes of the great importance of giving Tzedaka on Erev Sukkos.  In our day, this may extend to giving it to the Ani or the organization which will help the Ani the day before--so that he can buy, or they can give, the necessary food BEFORE Yom Tov.




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



QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Look around to see what you can do to be nice to people!” (Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Shlita)



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. The following notes are excerpted from the Sefer Nesivei HaMinhagim (Chag HaSukkos):


1. One should contemplate the awesome fact that we have many practical reminders of the Beis HaMikdash on Sukkos--taking the Lulav all seven days as was done in the Mikdash, HaKafos around the Bima symbolizing Hakafos around the Mizbeiach, Aravos on Hoshana Rabba, Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva, in addition to Tahara before the Regel by going to the Mikvah, and Kabbalas Pnei HaRav representing Kabbalas Pnei Hashechina. Hakhel Note: When we recite the words HaRachaman Hu Yakim Lanu Es Sukkas Dovid HaNofales (referring to the Beis HaMikdash)--we should recite it with very special meaning!


2. If one has an esrog that he received as a gift, and one that he purchased, the Sheilos U’Teshuvos Torah Lishma rules that it is better to make the bracha on the one that he purchased, and then take the one he received as a gift--even if the gift esrog is more mehudar. Others may disagree. However, in general, see Chayei Adam 68:16 on the importance of paying for a Mitzvah. In any event, one should avoid buying the Daled Minim on credit so that it is certainly deemed to be fully and unconditionally one’s own property.


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


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


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



POST-YOM KIPPUR POINTS: Our Yom Kippur Tefillos are over for 5777. It is our responsibility for the fervor, passion, or feeling that we experienced (at least at some point!) during the Tefillos to continue on with us through the year. We accordingly provide the following points:  


A. We note that there are several highlights of the Yom Kippur Tefilla which we recite daily.  They include Shema Koleinu, Aleinu, Baruch Sheim Kevod, and the ‘Mah Anu-Meh Chayeinu’ climax of our personal Neilah prayers.  At least when reciting these daily Tefillos we should remind ourselves of the feelings we had on Yom Kippur as we pled for our lives, and for the salvation of a shaky and nervous world. There is no doubt about it, your Tefilla makes a difference—and you better believe it!


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



C. We conclude Neilah on Yom Kippur with Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim.  We accept Hashem’s Kingship over us--now and forever.  While this may be a difficult concept for those who have been raised in Western Society, and for those of us who are impressed by their own wisdom, prowess or strength, the fact is that it is as absolute as the truth gets.  It is interesting to note that the penultimate Pasuk of the Shiras HaYam (Shemos 15:18) is “Hashem Yimloch Le’olam Voed--Hashem’s Malchus will last forever.”  The teaching is so fundamental to our daily life-that this Pasuk is actually repeated ten (!) times daily during the course of our three daily Tefillos (Nusach Ashkenaz), and even once in Kriyas Shema Al HaMita!  We will leave it to you to double-check our count in your next three tefillos.  If someone could give us the Nusach Sefard/Sefaradi/Ari counts, it would be most appreciated.  In all events, as we go through events in the day in which we sense that there is more to what happened than meets the eye--that there had to be a reason why you met up with him, or for why that certain unexpected thing happened, or even why you just missed the light--bring to mind and state this Pasuk--and you can touch daily that most sublime moment of Neilah on Yom Kippur!


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





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


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


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


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


 E.  It may be a good idea for one to review his activities from this past Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur, and make some notes as to items he forgot to do, or items that he should have done, so that he will have them Be’Ezras Hashem, for next year: 

·        Did everyone ask Mechilah from each other at the Seudas HaMafsekes?

·        Were the Halachos of Teshuvah and Vidui, and the Halachos of Yom Kippur itself (such as washing) clear to all?

·        Were all the candles that were necessary to be lit actually lit?

·        Were there any Sefarim needed to be purchased that could have further enhanced the davening or the day?

·        Are there any notes, thoughts, choices of Kabbalos, or personal Prayers that I should put into writing?



THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND:  During this very busy time, we must remember that a prime order of the day is for our intellect to rule over our emotions, and control the situation, rather than be controlled by it.  As the Orchos Chaim L’Rosh urges: “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha” -- do not react with confusion or overreact; rather, be calm and collected.  There is much to do in the next several days, and much of it has to do with Mitzvos and their proper performance.  Let us have the presence to keep ourselves in the right frame of mind.  If we are supposed to be happy on Yom Tov--shouldn’t we be happy when preparing to be happy?! In this regard, may we suggest preparing a checklist now so that important items and activities are not left for Erev Yom Tov!  Family members should have their Yom Tov clothing purchased or cleaned; children should receive the treats that will make them happy; 72-hour candles--which help tremendously if one is in need of fire on the third day of Yom Tov, are now available, and can be purchased. 


To reiterate, rather than falling prey to the Yetzer Hara, we should consider how every little step, how every little act--cleaning this or that, buying this or that, are all precious and irreplaceable Mitzvos which will stay with us forever and ever. 


Additional Note One:  There is another fascinating point about the continuum that we are passing through from Yom Kippur until Sukkos.  On Yom Kippur, we try as best as we can to serve Hashem as Malachim, as angels--no eating, or drinking, the Kittel and dress in white, reciting Boruch Sheim Kevod aloud...  The Sefer Kav HaYashar points out that the Gematria of Sukkah (91) is actually equal to that of Malach.  We were like a Malach just yesterday, and we will be like a Malach again in a few days from now.  We dare not lose this very special semblance over the next couple of days, as we maintain our more enthused and elevated level of Mitzvah performance and conduct--as we had hoped and strove for on Yom Kippur.  



Additional Note Two: In a Teshuva Drasha, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, provided an incredible di’yuk and insight from Sefer Yonah (1:12).  Yonah Hanavi, after advising the shipmen that he was the only one responsible for the storm, tells them, “Sa’Uni Va’Hatiluni El HaYam--pick me up and heave me into the sea…”  Why did he tell the shipmen to “pick me up”--wouldn’t it have been sufficient to simply say “heave me into the sea”?!  The answer is that Yonah is teaching us the value of one additional second of life--he would live for another moment if he were first picked up and then heaved into the sea, rather than being heaved directly into the stormy waters.  Life is so precious, so irreplaceable, and if used properly, so everlasting, that we must value every single moment.  It simply makes no sense whatsoever to consciously waste it on an aveira, or for there to be time when there is simply “nothing to do.”  Perhaps it is for this reason that we have so much--so many good things--to do in this short period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, so that we take Yonah’s lesson to heart--and train ourselves to appreciate the moments and use them wisely!



REBUILDING THE BAIS HAMIKDASH:  One of the reasons given for which we do not recite Tachanun in the period between Yom Kippur and Succos is because the first Beis HaMikdash was being dedicated during these very days in the times of Shlomo HaMelech.  Remember--history repeats itself--in these very days we can still celebrate the building of the Third Bais HaMikdash! Let us do our utmost to make it happen!



9 Tishrei

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



FROM A READER:  The 24-hour yahrzeit candles are not sufficient for a ner sheshavas, and they are not guaranteed to be still burning when you return from shul after Yom Kippur. There are 30-hour candles which will work fine.



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



KNOCKING ON THE DOOR!  In the Yom Kippur davening, we will recite, “K’Dalim U’Chrashim Dafaknu Dilasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, r’l, a poor person knocking on someone’s door and asking for funds that he needs to survive.  This is what we are doing as we stand before Hashem.  Fortunately, though, we are blessed with Someone who will answer the door and receive us warmly and with love.



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



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



VIDUI FOR WOMEN:  By the following link--  http://tinyurl.com/6fvqe2p  we provide a version of Viduy with special relevance to women, as arranged under the guidance of HaRav Shternbuch, Shlita.





DO IT NOW! Forgive those who may have wronged or hurt you--use the nusach we say at night “Hareini Mochel Lechol Mi She’hichis V’Hiknit Osi....” In this Great Zechus may Hashem completely forgive you as well!


Hakhel Note: Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Shlita brings in the name of the Shelah Hakadosh and mekubalim that mechila when one has been hurt is the equivalent of an Akeida!



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


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


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


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



YOM KIPPUR INITIATIVE: Once again, by the following link   http://tinyurl.com/jalu95t we provide the 5777 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!



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



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



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



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



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We provide four Halachos--two for today, and two for tomorrow, Yom Kippur. The following notes are excerpted from the Sefer Nesivei HaMinhagim (Chag HaSukkos):


1. The Be’er Heiteiv (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 630) brings the Maharil who taught that the Sukkah boards should be placed in the same order and position as they were in the previous year--just as the boards of the Mishkan had a particular order. The Bikkurei Yaakov disagrees, distinguishing between the Mishkan which was a Tashmish Kedusha, and the Sukkah, which is a Tashmish Mitzvah.


2. The Pri Megadim (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 643) writes that it is proper for the Sukkah to have a floor, recalling the Ananei Kavod, which surrounded Bnei Yisrael on all six sides. Based upon this thought, the floor would then be part of the Kedushas HaSukkah, and it would be forbidden to otherwise derive benefit from it.


3. The Seder HaYom writes that the reason we are so careful to beautify the Sukkah is in order to demonstrate how happy we are with the Mitzvah, and our special Chibuv Hamitzvah--when one does so, his reward goes beyond that of simply building a Sukkah, for he demonstrates the Simcha V’Tuv Leivav that Hashem desires of us when we perform Mitzvos.


4. The Sefas Emes writes that because of the Shechina in the Sukkah, when one dwells in the Sukkah he himself imbibes Kedusha into his inner being. It is therefore inappropriate to play games in the Sukkah, or to allow other nations who cannot appreciate the Shechina to enter. Indeed, the Sheim MeShmuel writes that the reason we do not recite Shalom Aleichem in the Sukkah on Leil Shabbos is because the Malochim cannot enter the Sukkah because the Kedusha is so great!





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


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


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


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


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






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


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


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


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


E. There is an issue as to whether one makes an Al HaGefen on the Havdalah wine, as he plans to eat a meal immediately after Havdalah.  If one does not intend to drink wine in this Seudah, then he does make an Al HaGefen on the Kos Shel Havdalah before the Seudah. 





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




KABBALOS:   By now, one should be formulating the Kabbala/Kabbalos that he intends to undertake for the coming year. We asked HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, when one should finalize his Kabbalos. He advised that his Rebbi, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, would formalize and express it at Neilah on Yom Kippur. Now is the time we should be going through the preparatory and practice stages to make sure the Kabbalos work, and how we can refine and improve on them. We provide below some of the Kabbalos we had initially suggested as part of our recent Summer Improvement Program. The suggestion was to undertake one item in Bein Adam LaMakom, one in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and one in Bein Adam L’Atzmo--and perform it once a day.


Bein Adam LaMakom



1.      HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, writes that when one recites a bracha, he can consciously perform four Mitzvos: Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, U’Le’avdo Bechol Levavchem and U’Ledavka Vo. Before reciting a Birkas HaNehenin have in mind these four Mitzvos!


2.      Say “Thank you Hashem!” with appreciation when opening up the refrigerator and seeing inside the various nourishing, essential, and even not-so-essential food and drink that Hashem has provided you with.


3.      Actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!


4.      Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Hu Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.


5.      The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuzuah is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam), or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.


6.      Answering “Amen” to another’s brachos or Tefillos provides us with the opportunity not only to fulfill a personal obligation--but to reiterate it in a voluntary way. Seek out an opportunity--although not required--to answer “Amen” to someone else’s Tefillah or bracha, so that you can personally exclaim your wholehearted belief in the Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence of Hashem!


7.      The Teshuvas HaRashba (5:1), writes that just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon of the year, so too, is Tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of the day.  Let us appreciate and utilize each and every Tefillas Mincha for the tremendous opportunity that it is--starting today!


Bein Adam L’Chaveiro



1.      Smile at someone (especially someone who could use it), or cause someone else to smile.


2.      Look at another person whom you are familiar with, and think about how much behind him there is that you really do not know--his Mitzvos, his life’s experiences, and the reasons he may react to situations and circumstances in ways that are different from you. Then, judge him favorably in something particular that occurred (or keep it in mind for the future).


3.      Perform an unrequested Chesed before breakfast.


4.      Have someone join in a Mitzvah with you--it can include asking someone to answer Amen to your bracha.


5.      One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”


6.      As the Navi describes, what Hashem seeks of us is ‘Ahavas Chesed’--not only to perform Chesed when the situation arises, but to love Chesed to the extent that it is incorporated into our character and being. Buy a notebook or establish a file for Chesed items--people to daven for; names to add to the Cholim list in Shul; people to help with Shidduchim; people to talk to; new Chesed ideas; confirmation that you have given daily Tzedaka for the sake of the Geulah of K’lal Yisrael….


7.      The Mitzvah of Kibud Av Va’eim is one of the few Mitzvos to which the Torah attributes Arichus Yomim--special reward in this world and the next. The Mitzvah applies both during a parent’s lifetime in this world and after. Every day, be sure to perform some new or different act of Kibud (e.g., an additional phone call, a gift, a donation of a Sefer to Shul in honor, etc.).


8.      Many times we do an important Chesed for another person--helping him with advice, being a good listener, taking the person’s name to daven for him…but as the next day comes, new and different circumstances and situations present themselves, and we may forget the person who we so helped or benefited just a day or two or three before. It would certainly be most beneficial for a person to keep a note to follow-up in a day or two or more on how this person feels, how that person fared, or whether he still needs this, or she is still looking for somebody for that. The follow-up to the initial Chesed not only provides shleimus, a completeness to the act of Chesed itself--it also provides a shleimus to the person completing it. Try to follow up, at least once a day with a person or project that you had started to assist with several days earlier.


Hakhel Note: An important consideration: When a person does Chesed with another, his ‘I’ should be expanded so that it is as if he is doing Chesed with himself, and accordingly one should perform the Chesed in the manner that he would want it done to himself.


 Bein Adam L’Atzmo



1.      Rather than taking out a cell phone when walking on the street or traveling, spend time with yourself.


2.      Before reciting Shema at night, make sure your last activity of the day is one of Ruchniyus--either the study of Torah (even for only a short while), an act of Chesed, or the performance of a Mitzvah.


3.      Do not ‘lose your cool’ even though it appears justifiable and may be even correct to do so.


4.      Run to do a Mitzvah (or want to run).


5.      Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.


6.      The Sefer Tomer Devorah teaches that we must all be careful that: “Ve’al Yikaneis Zar U’Mevatel Machshavto”--not to let foreign or inappropriate thoughts to infiltrate one’s mind. If one recognizes that a thought of inappropriate jealousy, anger, dislike, desire, or the like has entered one’s mind--he should quickly banish it, replacing it with the thought of a Pasuk, a Mitzvah or a good deed!


7.      We are all warned .to avoid the attitude and even the feeling of ‘Kochi V’Otzem Yadi’--it is my strength, my acumen, my knowledge that brought me to my position in life, my accomplishments…. Every time one has a feeling of personal aggrandizement or unjustified pride--even if it is in Torah study or Ruchniyus, he should exclaim: “It is not Kochi V’Otzem Yadi” or “It is Hashem’s gift!”


8.      We are all familiar with the famous Ma’aseh reported of the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, being given the room in an inn next to Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl. The Chofetz Chaim reported that the whole night he could hear Rebbi Yisroel Salanter repeating the following teaching (Avos 4:28): “Rebbi Eliezer HaKapar Omer: HaKinah V’HaTa’avah VeHakavod Motzi’in Es Ha’adam Min HaOlam--jealousy, desire, and honor, r’l remove a person from the world.” One must constantly remind himself of these three horrendous middos which seek to undermine a person’s very existence in this world. If he can do battle with them, then they will not succeed in removing him from the world--and the great and clear implication is that doing battle will bring  a person further life. As Rebbi Yisroel Salanter did, one should remind himself of Rebbi Yisroel HaKapar’s teaching--and implement it, as Rebbi Yisroel certainly did as well!


9.      After the hundreds of teachings in Pirkei Avos, the Mesechta concludes (5:26) with the teaching of Ben Hei Hei: “Lefum Tza’ara Agra--according to the effort is the reward.” One should not delude himself into thinking that his personal wisdom, aggressiveness or connections got him anywhere, or will get him anywhere. Hashem looks solely at the efforts of the person in his particular position in life. Mesechta Avos is the Mesechta that is specifically dedicated to how we can grow personally. Its final words to us are: “With Effort”. If something is important to you, whether it be Kavannah in Tefillas Mincha, a Daf Yomi Shiur, helping a certain person find a Shidduch….whatever it may be, remember not to tire of it and instead reinvigorate and revitalize yourself to put your best effort into it--daily!


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


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





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


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


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


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


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





8 Tishrei

FROM A READER: The Sifsei Chaim and Raishis Chochmah teach that we have to not only recite the 13 middos of rachamim, but we also need to try to emulate these middos in our own lives. When we emulate the 13 middos, Hashem will deal with us mercifully too, middah kineged middah. By the following link--  http://tinyurl.com/zy3kygx  we provide a chart to assist one is doing so.


If readers need this resized or for more info they can contact TorahDesigns@gmail.com



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



TZEDAKAH TODAY--IF NOT NOW, WHEN?! We are still in desperate need of matches for the cities of Kiryat Sefer and Tzefas. Please go to yadeliezer.org, and specify your donation. May it serve as a great zechus for you and your family!



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



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



REMINDER!  One should make sure to have the personal Tefillah that he composed for Rosh Hashanah (as per the Shiur of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita), available in his Yom Kippur Machzor to be recited at the end of one’s Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei before Asei L’Ma’an Shemecha as well.



YOM KIPPUR INITIATIVE: By the following link--  http://tinyurl.com/jalu95t  we provide the 5777 V’Ani Tefillah Foundation Yom Kippur Worldwide Initiative Flyer regarding  a great opportunity to acquire incomparable zechusim on the Holiest Day of the Year--when we need them most!



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



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



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



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



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





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


B. The Kabbalah of one Rav: Not to complain ever!


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


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



HYDRATING!  Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brachos, advises as follows: Drinking water to hydrate creates questions as to whether brachos are applicable. The best advice is to drink juice and recite a bracha rishona and acharona. A better suggestion from a practical as well as halacha standpoint is for one to drink his favorite flavored sport drink (e.g., Gatorade) with electrolytes before the fast. It will hydrate, and there will not be any bracha shailos as a bracha rishona and achrona will definitely be required.



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


1. It is a Mitzvah to cut one’s hair Erev Sukkos in honor of the chag. One should also cut one’s nails. In fact, the Sefer Mateh Ephraim (525:13) permits one to cut both his fingernails and toenails on Erev Sukkos--even though ahl pi kabalah one should generally not do this. [One should consult with his Rav as to whether this is the followed practice.] One should only eat bread or even Mezonos before Chatzos (some say until the 10th hour). Indeed, Rebbi Avin (an Amora) would fast Erev Sukkos every year in order to ready himself to eat in the Sukkah. Some have the custom of not sleeping on Erev Sukkos in order to sleep b’tei’avon as well! (Luach Davar B’Ito).


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


F.  We once again provide a  great Tefillah for Teshuvah--which you may insert at the end of your Yom Kippur Shemone Esrei http://tinyurl.com/2dm686  The Tefillah is published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year!






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


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


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


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


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






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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


16.  One should bring himself to cry in his Tefillos on Yom Kippur and should be sure to express his personal requests to Hashem. 



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



5 Tishrei

AN IMPORTANT QUESTION!  In Praying With Fire II, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita brings the powerful teaching of the Rashba (Shailos U’Teshuvos HaRashba5:1):  Just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon (most auspicious period for Heavenly Grace) of each year, so too is our daily davening of tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of each day. Hakhel Question: How powerful, then, is Tefillas Mincha in the Aseres Yemei Teshuva?! Let us gird ourselves with extra-special Kavannah!!



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



THE RAMBAM’S LANGUAGE: There is no ambiguity. The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4) writes exactly what we are to do during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah: “LeHarbos BeTzedakah U’VeMa’asim Tovim VeLa’asok BeMitzovs Yoser MeKol Hashana--we must give more Tzedakah, do more good deeds and be very involved in Mitzvos--to a greater extent than the rest of the year.” This is what we are supposed to do--it is up to us to do so!



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



A THOUGHT ON KABBALOS: Very often, much precious time during the year is lost as one walks from place-to-place (such as from home to the bus) without any focus. The mind is allowed to wander. Sometimes it is good, and one reminds himself of things to do--but very often it may be more of a waste of time, and even destructive as one considers ‘why he said this’ or ‘why she did that’? It may be a better idea for one to attempt to bli neder commit to think about what he is going to think about before he starts his walk (perhaps keeping items that need to be thought about on a piece of paper and looking at it before leaving). Of course, the item to be thought about can most certainly be Divrei Torah--as Chazal (Shir HaShirim Rabbah) teach that the sechar for learning Torah while traveling is five times greater than for learning Torah in a regular study position. Imagine the constructive hours you can gain in just one year!


Hakhel Note: We welcome your thoughts on firming up your Kabbalos!



NOT JUST CLEAN INSIDE…: Chazal teach that because we do not eat or drink on Yom Kippur as a matter of course, one of the ways that we can accord Kavod to the day is by wearing a kesus nekiyah--clean clothing in honor of the day. May we recommend that one take out the clothing now, and make sure that it is free of spots or stains--so that one becomes clean--both inside and out!





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



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We provide two Halachos for each of today, Shabbos and Sunday:


1. As we all know, the Rema writes that one should begin building his Sukkah on Motza’ei Yom Kippur so that he leaves one Mitzvah and enters another. If one finds it difficult to begin the actual building either because he is weak from the fast or he needs the help of others, the Kaf HaChaim writes that he should at least speak with his household members regarding the Sukkah. In a similar vein, the Aruch HaShulchan writes that one unable to build a Sukkah should be involved in learning Mesechta Sukkah or the Halachos of Sukkah. Likewise, the Mateh Ephraim writes that if one has purchased his Lulav and Esrog prior to Yom Kippur, he should check them on Motza’ei Yom Kippur to make sure that everything is in order (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 624; and 625, Dirshu Notes 3 and 4).


2. When eating one’s kezayis or preferably more than a kebeiyah of challah in the Sukkah on the first night of Sukkos [or in Chutz La’aretz on both nights of Sukkos], one should lechatchila have in mind that he is doing so Zecher Leyetziyas Mitzrayim and Zecher Le’ananei Kavod, which surrounded us and protected us from the elements around us in the desert (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 626, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1). According to Rebbi Akiva, the Sukkah is actually a remembrance to the actual physical Sukkos or huts that every family of K’lal Yisrael possessed in the Midbar. Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita (Emuna Daily), in the name of HaRav Yitzchak Scher, Z’tl, asked what is so remarkable about our dwelling in simply huts, which brings us to commemorate it with the Sukkos holiday. HaRav Scher answers that the great miracle of the huts is the personal Hashgacha Pratis that each family experienced in the Midbar--a miracle which continues through our day! As we sit in the Sukkah on the first night(s) of Sukkos--let us revel in Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis over us!


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


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


5.  If an esrog becomes spotted through much hand-holding, the well-known Chasam Sofer (Sukkah 36A) writes that this is its true beauty. The Chazon Ish, Z’tl,  and Steipeler z’tl, both explain this to mean that the esrog is not more mehudar as a result--rather, it is  to say that because this is part of the esrog’s function and use--the spots become part of the mareh esrog--which is an item of beauty. HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and HaRav Vozner, Z’tl, take one additional step and rule that the Chasam Sofer would not want his sevarah relied upon on the first day of Yom Tov, in which the mitzvah of Daled Minim is MiD’Oraysa(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 648, Dirshu Note 89).


6.  If  an esrog was stored under a bed, is it rendered unfit for use because of the ‘ruach ra’ah’ that has come upon it? The Binyan Olam rules that one should use it only if he has no choice. The Sedei Chemed writes that one should rinse off the esrog three times with water before using it. The Steipeler, Z’tl, writes that it is only an issue on the first day when there is a requirement of Lachem--and it cannot be eaten, but on subsequent days one may take it lechatchila. Hakhel Note: For those transporting an esrog and putting it under their train or plane seat, this may be an issue as well(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 649, Dirshu Note 82).





A.  In Birchos HaShachar one thanks Hashem for taking care of all of my needs--She’asah Li Kol Tzarki.  What a wonderful inspiration for one to remember daily--Hashem is there to take care of me!  Is it not my responsibility to spend some time and effort considering how I can act differently, how I can change for the better--in honor of Hashem!


B.  “U’Chesov LeChaim Tovim Kol Bnei Brisecha--inscribe all the children of Your covenant for good life.”  What is a good life?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that it is life in this world which will be good for Olam Haba


C.  The following points are excerpted from Nachpesah Deracheinu VeNachkora--a pamphlet issued in Lakewood, which is available (in Hebrew) at the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/d54y4uc:


1.  The Aseres Yemei Teshuva are different than the other days of the year, in that during these hallowed days, Hashem actually wakes us up to do Teshuvah, while throughout the year a person must initiate the process in some way on his own (Sefer Ya’aros Devash, 1:1).  This is the meaning of the Pasuk that we recited on Tzom Gedalya and that we have recited in Selichos:  “Dirshu Hashem BeHimatzoh--Hashem presents Himself to us without our having to find Him.” (Yeshaya 55:6) If a person would take the matter seriously, he would realize that his heart is yearning for Teshuvah during these days.  Hakhel Note:  Imagine that HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, or HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, came into the room to wake you up--wouldn’t you spring out of bed?!  Here we have the Melech Malchei HaMelochim Who has come to wake us up--let us jump at the opportunity!


2.  We must search our ways--this may be difficult not only because it involves real thought, but also because people forget what they do, or repress what they have done--or at least the seriousness of what they have done.  It is for this reason that the expanded version of the Vidui (such as that of the Chida or the Chayei Adam) have been published.  On the above link, one will find an expanded Vidui for one to reflect upon.  One should take specific notes on what he would specifically like to correct, and how he will do so. 


3.  The reason that one recites Vidui even over sins that he believes he did not commit is threefold:  (1) Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh LaZeh--we are all responsible for each other, and so we must ask forgiveness for our mutual aveiros; (2) One may have committed the sin in a previous gilgul; and (3) One may have committed the sin, and not have focused or remembered it.


4.  The Rambam in Chapter 4 of Hilchos Teshuvah brings 24 items which are me’akev (hold back, or limit a person’s ability to do) Teshuvah.  One of them is HaPoresh Min HaTzibbur--someone who separates himself from doing something together with others, for he lacks the collective merit that they have engendered.  Another is Sonei Es HaTochachos--one’s failure to listen to and apply the words of Mussar that are related to him (everyone should grow at least in one way from the Shabbos Shuvah Drasha that he heard).  A third is somebody who receives honor at the expense of another person (even if that person is not there, and even if the other person is not embarrassed).  The last item listed by the Rambam is HaMischaber LeRasha--one who associates with a person who sins--for they leave a mark whether or not one realizes it.  We all can stay farther away from one person or another of this sort (see the Rambam there for the complete listing of items which are me’akev Teshuvah).  Hakhel Note:  If one’s car would not go over 20 miles per hour and he did a lot of highway driving, would he not take the car in for repair?  The 24 items which are me’akev Teshuvah simply do not let us get up to the speed we need to be at! 


D.  The period that we are in is a serious one and should be treated as such.  One should think twice before joking around or acting with levity in order to ‘lighten the mood’.  As we all know, each new day during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah corresponds to one’s intending to do Teshuvah for all of these days in the prior year. 


E. When preparing for Yom Kippur, and certainly on Yom Kippur itself, when one recognizes or brings to mind a sin which he has particularly transgressed, he should certainly stop and feel remorse for it.  In the Yom Kippur davening, we will recite, “K’Dalim U’Chrashim Dafaknu Delasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, rachmana litzlan, a poor person knocking on someone’s door and asking for funds that he needs to survive.  This is what we are doing as we stand before Hashem.  Fortunately, though, we are blessed with Someone who will answer the door and receive us warmly and with love.


F.  We must remember and spend some time working out the “Aveiros Kalos”--the so-called lesser transgressions.  The Sha’arei Teshuva (1:38 ) writes that we should not look at the “smallness of the transgression” but the Greatness of He Who warned against it.  Secondly, if one persists in a small transgression, the successive accumulation of Sin could be analogized to a delicate and weak strand of silk which, through constant redoubling, becomes a stout rope.  Moreover, even as to a “small transgression,” a person can be considered, rachmana litzlan, a “mumar--an apostate”--in this particular respect(!).  Finally, Rabbeinu Yonah writes, if the Yetzer Hara gains even a “small victory” over a person today, it can gain a greater victory tomorrow--so you must stop him today!


G.  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, once traveled during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah to Tel Aviv to the Admor of Strikov.  A student asked him why he was traveling to Tel Aviv at a time when every minute was being scrupulously measured.  HaRav Shach responded that he had a Kabbala that before Yom Kippur one should go to get a Bracha from a “Gutter Yid--a Good Jew.”  Let us take this essential lesson from Rav Shach-- and be sure to get Brachos from our Rabbanim and other “good Jews.”


H.  Rabbeinu Yonah (in the Sha’arei Teshuva, outset of Sha’ar 4) teaches that Teshuva is to the soul what a panacea is to the body.  This is beautifully reflected in the Avinu Malkeinus we have been reciting daily, in which we ask Hashem:  “HaChazireinu B’Seshuva Sheleima Lefanecha”, and then immediately follow this plea with “Shelach Refuah Sheleima LeCholei Amecha.”  Once we have healed our soul, the healing of our body takes on greater meaning.  This is of course, also similar to the Mi Shebeirach for a Choleh in which we first ask for a “Refuas HaNefesh,” and then for a “Refuas HaGuf.”  Remember, all of this healing is free, and the extent of all of our healing is directly proportional to the sincerity and effort we invest in its achievement.


I.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, notes that in the second Bracha of Shemone Esrei which relates to Hashem’s Gevurah, we add the important phrase “Mi Chamocha Av HaRachamim--who is like You Hashem, the Father of Mercy?”  What, HaRav Moshe asks, does Gevurah have to do at all with mercy?  Doesn’t Gevurah represent Din or justice?  HaRav Moshe answers that with this precise language Chazal are teaching us how we are to perform acts of mercy--with Gevurah!  We should not, for example, wait for the poor person to come knocking at our door, or for the neighbor to ask for the favor.  Instead, we should strengthen ourselves and look for the opportunities of Chesed.  We should be Giborim in Rachamim.  To do so is to emulate Hashem, and to do so is the mark of the Torah Jew.  Hakhel Note:  At the end of the day, you may want to think about where you were a true Gibor in Rachamim.  If you cannot find a shining example, perhaps you could put it high on your list for the next day!





A. This Shabbos is known as ‘Shabbos Shuva’ with the word Shabbos coming before the word ‘Shuva’ in order to teach us the preeminence of Shabbos even over matters which could otherwise help us with our Teshuva process.  


B. The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 423, seif katan 2) writes that on each one of the days of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva a person should look into his ways relating to his activities over the year on that particular day of the week.  Perhaps this is easiest to do for Shabbos, in which a person’s schedule and activities are usually fixed.  A person should reflect:  What mistakes did I make in Hilchos Shabbos last year?  What improvement will I make to my Shabbos table?  How can I improve my Shabbos Tefillos?  What special Parashas Hashavua commentary will I bli neder undertake this year? Will I be careful to eat Melave Malka on Motza’ei Shabbos?  This Shabbos is the time to have these special thoughts and make some Shabbos decisions!   Hakhel Note:  As this is the first Shabbos of the year--let us make sure bli neder that we are mekabel Shabbos on-time--or even a few minutes before the time.  May it be a Siman Tov for one’s Kabbalas Shabbos for the rest of the year!


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


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

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

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

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

5. Laitzanus--mockery, poking fun, ridicule

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

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

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

9.  Divrei Machlokes--fighting, argumentative words

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


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


Hakhel Note:  As noted above, if you can free yourself of an Aveira--you will then be reciting the Vidui exclusively on behalf of someone else (as Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh LaZeh)--so you will be fulfilling an additional mitzvah of VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha!




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


11.  Ve’al Kulam Elo’ak Selichos is not part of the Vidui, and need not be recited in a bowed position.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



4 Tishrei

WHEN THE SHOFAR WILL BE BLOWN! At what special occasions in the future will the Shofar be blown?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah brings from Rebbi Yehuda HaChassid that there will be three times that a great Shofar will be blown:  (i) at Techiyas HaMeisim, (ii) at Kibutz Galiyos, and (iii) in order to bring down the Malchus Edom.  In a wonderful sense our Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashana serves as the bridge between the call of the Shofar at Har Sinai (where the Kol Shofar could actually be seen!), and the ultimate Kol of the Shofarim that we will hear in the great and hopefully very close future!  To the western world the Shofar serves as no match for synthesizers, computerized music and the like--we know better--Ashrei HaAm Yodei Seruah--fortunate is the people that understand the Shofar’s importance--from Har Sinai to eternity



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



PURITY! Now that we have begun to recite Vidui on a daily basis, we recall the holy words of the Sefer Tomer Devorah in which HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, writes that when one recites Viduy he should have in mind to bring upon himself Tahara--a wellspring of purity.  Indeed, HaRav Cordevero writes, that Dovid HaMelech in the Kepitel of Teshuvah (Tehillim 51:4) exclaims:  “Herev Kabesaini Mei’avoni U’Maichatasi Tahareini--abundantly cleanse me from my iniquity, and from my sin purify me!”



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We present below another two Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma’aseh Rav:


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


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


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


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




IMPORTANT POINTS ON VIDUI: One can easily brush over the Ashamnus and the Al Cheits boldly disclaiming any sin in this regard or at least thinking that what he has done is ‘Nisht Geferlach’--not so bad.  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva in New York, teaches that Nisht Geferlach’ is ‘Geferlach’.  We know two things: 


(1) The Navi (Yirmiyahu 2:35) teaches:  “Hineni Nishpat Osach Al Amreich Lo Chatasi--Hashem judges a person by separate judgment for the person’s claim that he did not sin.”


(2) It is not the ‘major aveiros’ that may necessarily affect many people, but as Chazal teach it is the “Mitzvos that a person steps upon that surround a person at the time of his judgment”.  One must get serious in his reflection as to some of the everyday challenges and pitfalls that he encounters.  Here are just a few examples:


(a) Tzararnu--going through the day making the conscious effort not to hurt anybody with one’s words or actions.  Even if the other person is not a timid, weak, poor or suffering person--and even if that person is your parent, wife or child--one must take his own pain and care to avoid causing pain, suffering, anguish, or distress to another. 


(b) Kishinu Oref--we must not be stubborn and rigid, but flexible and attentive.  “I know better”; or “I will teach him”, without working with the person on his own level and in a way that bests suits the person is not only counterproductive--but offensive and wrong.  The prohibition against being stiff-necked likewise applies to an attitude of “I can’t change the way I daven”, “I can’t learn more than I do”, and “That’s the way it is--every once in a while Lashon Hara comes out.”   We add that as part of taking stock on Kishinu Oref, one think about something about himself that he knows bothers others, but that he has failed to correct because it is “him.”  If one realizes that a particular mannerism or ‘custom’ really does irk family, friends, or colleagues, it should become part of the “Nachpesa Deracheinu”--the search of our ways so essential to steering us back to the proper path in life.


(c) Overdue Items--one should not overlook the items or money he has borrowed or lent to others, or to whom he owes a phone call or an apology before Rosh Hashanah.


(d) Brachos Recitation--were there any times this year that you failed to make a Bracha Achrona?  Was there any time this year when you were unsure whether you recited an Asher Yatzar or not?  Was there any time this year that you recited the wrong bracha on a product?  Do you let your family/friends get by with the way they recite brachos--even though you know that they should do better?  Fascinatingly, the Orchos Chaim LaRosh teaches that one should be careful to instruct his family to be careful in three items:  Kavannah in Tefillah; the proper method of Netilas Yadayim; and proper brachos recitation.  It is not a long list--but it is a powerfully meaningful one!  Our dedication to improvement in brachos recitation is a demonstration of the honor that we feel in bringing Hashem into our life every day--throughout the day! 





A.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 423) does not write extensively about the Aseres Yemei Teshuva.  Specifically, he writes the following, “It is appropriate for every person to search through and scrutinize his deeds and do Teshuva as necessary.”  However, the Rema adds just one thing--”A Sofek Aveira--an aveira that one is unsure about--requires more Teshuva than an aveira which was certainly committed, because one does not feel so sorry about an aveira that he is unsure he performed.  It is for this reason that the Korban for an Asham Tolui (the Korban brought if one is unsure he performed certain aveiros) actually costs more than a Korban Chatos (brought for an aveira definitely committed).”  Based on these short but directed words of the Rema, we must be sure to reflect upon those words and deeds we were unsure about, looking up the Halacha in a sefer, or consulting with a Rav, in order to properly and honestly fulfill our mission and goal during this most special of weeks!


B.  Hashem, as we constantly repeat during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, is the “HaMelech HaKadosh-The King, The Holy.”  “Holy” denotes separate, apart, removed, distant, and not in the same place or plane (see Rashi, Vayikra 19:2 and Rashi, Kiddushin 2A).  How could it be that our King, with Whom we are in constant dialogue through Torah and Tefillah, Whom we constantly place before us with Brachos and Mitzvah performance, could be HaKadosh, distant, apart and separate?  The Sifsei Chaim (1:147) explains that this is precisely the lesson of the words “HaMelech HaKadosh” being placed together as a unit--even though Hashem is Kadosh-separated and apart--He wants to be King over us, and wants us to make Him our King by our drawing closer to Him and by ourselves becoming kedoshim--our elevating ourselves to higher planes of Ruchniyos.


C.  The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (VI: p. 254, 255) specifically writes that one must appease his friend even if his friend is the one who is wrong, and even if his friend provoked him by hurling insults upon him. The Piskei Teshuvos adds that people do the wrong thing when they go around asking their close friends “Do you Mochel me?”, “Do you Mochel me?”, rather than spending the time to speak to those with whom there has been friction or difficulties, asking them for Mechila–which is really what is important.


Additional Note One:  We have already noted the Chofetz Chaim who rules that when one forgives another who hurt him intentionally or wantonly--Hashem will also forgive him for his acts of malice as well!


Additional Note Two:  Can one first ask Hashem for forgiveness of a Bein Adam Lechaveiro activity--by reciting Vidui and only afterwards ask the hurt party for forgiveness--or must one first ask of and obtain forgiveness from  the person--and only then come to Hashem and recite Vidui?  The right answer--which has been bolded for your convenience--will remind you how important asking for forgiveness--especially BEFORE Yom Kippur--really is!


Additional Note Three:  One who does forgive should forgive with a Lev Shaleim--a complete heart! 


D.  Perhaps the single greatest Nisayon that we face is Mitzvos Anashim Melumada.  We do so many good things, we perform so many nice acts, daily.  But we do so much out of rote and habit--not properly appreciating the greatness and profundity, the everlasting effects, of the Mitzvos that are being performed.  As the Chofetz Chaim points out, a person’s goal in this world is not to perform 70 years of good deeds here, so that he will have 70 years of heavenly bliss in the world to come.  Rather, it is to maximize one’s 120 years here, which will have defining and everlasting effects--forever and ever and ever.  The opportunity of reciting Kriyas Shema, for example, two times today may simply be part of 14 times this week, and many hundreds of times over the course of a year--but each and every Kriyas Shema, each and every Pesukei D’Zimrah, each and every daily Chesed and each and every daily Torah study lasts forever--and its everlasting effects are very much dependent upon the way in which it was performed.  It is for this reason that one may otherwise feel that the ‘Yetzer Hara is ‘leaving me alone’--because he may be relatively satisfied with the banal, lackluster and/or everyday performance of Mitzvos.  The Aseres Yemei Teshuvah is a time to reignite and reenergize, to re-appreciate and re-instill within us the invaluable and incomparable gifts of Mitzvos given to us by Hashem daily.  One-by-one, step-by-step, recognize the Melumada--and stamp it out!  The mark of success will literally be everlasting!


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


F.  The following excellent Kabala is based upon a Shiur given by HaRav Don Segel, Shlita, as related by Rav Yosef Eisen, Shlita.  In the Shiur, HaRav Segel taught about the importance a person should place on making proper brachos throughout the day.  He then gave the following simple yet phenomenal suggestion to permanently improve your bracha recitation:  Divide the bracha into three parts and focus on the meaning of each section separately:  1) “Baruch Ata Hashem”...(This is praise and thanks, and your statement that “Hashem, You are the Source of all bracha, and bring more and more continuously to this world”....);  2) “Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam”...(“You are All-Powerful, and Rule over the Whole World”...); 3) The specific nature of the bracha--Borei Pri/HaMotzi/Asher Kideshanu...specifically appreciating the specific item or event that we are making a bracha over.  Hakhel Note:  Isn’t this Kabala suggestion too wonderful and practical ...to simply let it go by?  If it seems too great an undertaking all the time, perhaps start with a certain bracha, or certain brachos in the day?  Remember, you are in the heart of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--so there is no better time to start than right now.  If you have a food item in front of you--try it!


G.  We learned from the Malchiyos and Zichronos of Rosh Hashana that we are to realize that a real focus of our life should be placed upon Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim and the awareness that Hashem watches over us and guides us--and does the same for billions of people in a manner which is beyond our comprehension.  All of this reminds us that Hashem wants us to do good--so that we achieve eternity in the best possible way--and Hashem wants to help us. As we have noted in the past, there is a remarkable bracha--the last of the Birkas Hashachar in the morning.  The Bracha begins HaMa’avir Sheinah Mai’einai--thanking Hashem for removing the slumber from one’s eyes and refreshing him to begin a new day--and then proceeds within the bracha to make approximately 20 different requests for Hashem’s help during the day.  The bracha then concludes HaGomel Chassadim Tovim--Who bestows beneficent kindnesses upon His people Yisrael.  We may suggest that if one bli neder accepts upon himself to recite this bracha slowly with Kavannah, asking Hashem for assistance in so much of what happens or could happen throughout the day--one demonstrates his recognition of Hashem’s Malchus over him, and also of Hashem’s awareness of and involvement in the particulars of one’s every day trials, tribulations and victories.  Moreover, one is praying for Hashem’s assistance in so many important matters--and he is certainly coming to the right place in doing so!  Perhaps one can attempt this Kabala--reciting this bracha slowly with Kavannah--to start with for 30 days--it may mean starting davening or coming to Shul a minute earlier in order to give the bracha the recognition it deserves--but it will certainly be so splendidly worth it!



3 Tishrei



FROM A READER--ROADMAP TO TESHUVAH: By the following link http://tinyurl.com/hu584cv, we provide a wonderful, thought-through path toTeshuvah!



BANECHA HAIM:  Chazal teach us that the Navi Hoshea was taught that he should have pleaded to Hashem on behalf of K’lal Yisrael with the words Banecha Haim, B’nei Chanunecha, B’nei Avraham Yitzchok VeYa’akov--Galgeil Rachamecha Aleihem!” We too must plead on behalf of Hashem’s children--who are the children of the Avos and our brothers as well!  A Rav asked us to focus our readers’ attention on the beginning words of our Selichos daily--KeDalim U’cheRoshim Dofaknu Delasecha--we are all impoverished as we seek Hashem’s compassion.  We should recognize that every person has his own pekele of issues and difficulties--AND DAVEN NOT ONLY FOR OURSELVES BUT FOR EVERY MEMBER OF K’LAL YISRAEL.  There are those with physical problems, mental problems, Shalom Bayis problems, Parnassah problems, Shidduch problems--there are so many issues--we must expand our “me” our “I” to encompass those who are one with us.  During the Selichos Period and over the Yomim Noraim we are not only davening for ourselves! Let us make the effort to open our hearts far and wide--and may Hashem open the door even farther and wider!


Remember, there are no limits to what we can accomplish with Siyata D’Shmaya, and just one sincere Tefillah can get us there!



THE AHL CHEIT LINK: As Yom Kippur approaches, we provide for your use a linkof the Ahl Cheits  http://tinyurl.com/p8ewl7d . Please feel free to print-out, and share the link with others!



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



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





Hakhel Note:  The Yesod VeShoresh Ha’Avoda writes that one should be “Marbeh BeTzedakah” because giving Tzedakah is a “Segulah Nefla’a LeKapparas HaAvonos U’Veyichud LaEvyonim MeHuganim Ba’alei Torah--giving Tzedaka is a wondrous Segulah for forgiveness of sin--especially if it is to poor Torah Scholars.”  Over the next several days, let us especially remind ourselves:  Give!  Give!  Give!  and then…Give!     



QUESTION OF THE DAY: Chazal teach that during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we recite HaMelech Hakodosh, rather than HaKel Hakodosh. Why is it that HaMelech must replace HaKel in the bracha? Can’t we just add HaMelech before or after HaKel, so that it is HaKel HaMelech Hakodosh? After all, as we concluded U’Nesaneh Tokef, did we not cry out that Hashem is Melech Kel Chai V’Kayam? Moreover, Kel is even in the Shelosh Esrei Middos that we have been reciting and will continue to recite so many important times through the end of Yom Kippur. Why not continue to include it in the bracha, as we do on the other 353 days of the year?! We look forward to your thoughts!



HILCHOS SUKKAH: We continue our two Halachos a day in the 30-day period before Sukkos. We present below two Shailos asked of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as presented in the Sefer Ma'aseh Rav:


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


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


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


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



ELOKAI NETZOR:  Now that we have concluded our Nineteen Week Kavannah campaign of the nineteen brachos of Shemone Esrei, we conclude with our focus on our personal requests in Elokai Netzor.  For example: “P’sach Libi BeSoresecha U’VeMitzvosecha Tirdof Nafshi --open my heart to Your Torah and may my soul pursue Your commandments.”  Here, we ask not only that we be given the ability to study--but that Hashem open our hearts so that our study is deep and successful.  We also ask for Hashem’s assistance not only to perform the Mitzvos--but to pursue the Mitzvos, indicating an understanding and appreciation of them.  When one cherishes something, he runs after it.  We then continue to plead with Hashem as follows:  “VeChol HaChoshevim Alai Ra’ah Meheirah Hafer Atzasam VeKalkel Machshevasam--and for those who intend to do me harm, speedily void their plans and spoil their intentions.”  What an important request--especially at a time when different enemies--from terrorists to so-called leaders seek to r’l harm us, if not to r’l obliterate us or compromise our dedication to Torah study and to Mitzvos.  Here is our opportunity, daily--three times a day to ask Hashem to thwart their intentions.  Why?  “Asei LeMa’an Shemecha, Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha, Asei LeMa’an Kedushasecha, Asei LeMa’an Torasecha--so that Kiddush Hashem will prevail in the world, with everyone recognizing the Malchus of Hashem, and the world is brought to its fulfillment!” We provide by the following link additional notes on Elokai Netzor for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html





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


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


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


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



TESHUVA FOR A LIFE OF WRONGDOING:  The wonderful Sefer, Journey to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll), provides the following essential guidance for one who feels inundated by past wrongdoings: 


Even if one has regularly offended people (through Lashon Hara, Rechilus, verbal abuse, etc.) for many years and caused incalculable damage during that time, one should not despair, for nothing stands in the way of Teshuvah.  No matter how low a person has stooped, Hashem is ready at all times to accept his Teshuvah.  Furthermore, Hashem desires and awaits his return.  “And until the day a person dies You wait for him, if he will return to You, You will immediately accept him” (Tefillah of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur).


The Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuva (7:4, 7): Let not a person who has done Teshuvah imagine that he is far removed from the greatness of Tzadikim because of his sins and iniquities.  It is not so; rather, he is beloved and desired before the Creator as if he had never sinned. Furthermore, his reward is great because he ‘tasted sin and then left it’, and overcame his evil inclination….  How great is Teshuvah. Yesterday (before he did Teshuvah) he was distanced from Hashem…if he cried out to Him he was not answered…when he performed Mitzvos they were taken away (i.e., they were unwanted)…and today (after he has decided to return to Hashem)…when he cries out he is answered immediately…when he does Mitzvos they are accepted with pleasure and joy…and furthermore, Hashem desired them! (ibid)


Although it may be impossible to recall the identity of all those who were harmed, one should at least make efforts to placate the ones whom one does remember having wronged.  A person who wants to do Teshuvah for years of wrongdoing should engage in four different activities:


(a)  He should rectify whatever he possibly can.


(b)  He should take steps to distance himself as much as possible from repeating his old patterns of behavior. He should make efforts to avoid situations in which he will be tempted to repeat those wrongs, and should take active steps to ensure that his resolution to change his ways is carried out.  For example, he should study Mussar and the laws pertaining to the wrongs committed.  If his personality led him to abuse others or speak Lashon Hara, he should examine the sources of the problem and get help to change his behavior patterns.


(c) Torah and acts of kindness are atonements for wrongdoing.  Thus, if a person wants to atone for previous behavior he should engage in Torah study and act with kindness to others.


(d)  The righteous find favor doing precisely those activities with which they had previously sinned.  Thus, someone who wishes to atone for Lashon Hara, verbal abuse, cheating, etc. should try to teach and spread knowledge of these Mitzvos and prohibitions and encourage others to observe them.  At the height of the ecstasy of rejoicing on Sukkos, those who repented said, “Fortunate are our older years that have atoned for our younger years.”  Most important is the need to firmly resolve that from now on these wrongs will not be repeated.


Hakhel Note:  Hashem has given us an unbelievable opportunity to cleanse ourselves of years of accumulated grime.  Let us make the effort at this special time to come clean!



29 Elul

IMPORTANT REMINDER! WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE COMING YEAR! We provide by the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/pfdv3jw  a calendar for the study of Sefer Mesilas Yesharim over the two-month period of Tishrei and Marcheshvan 5777. Please feel free to print out, make your own postcard, and spread the word!  This Program is for men and women--there are outstanding English translations of the Mesilas Yesharim available both through Artscroll and Feldheim.  This bli neder two-month undertaking will most certainly demonstrate your real desire for improvement in the coming year! PLEASE JOIN US!!



ROSH!  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains that Rosh means ‘head’ and just as the head of a body contains the mind which controls and runs the entire organism (and if there is a problem in the head, the rest of the body is affected as well), so too, is Rosh Hashanah--the head of the year essential for the health and well being of the rest of the year.  The more that one is successful in his Avodah of Rosh Hashanah--the more successful he will be the entire year! 



HONEY!: HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, explains part of the symbolism of honey on Rosh Hashanah.  Why do we need honey--after all, everything that Hashem gives to us is sweet, for no one cares about us and knows what is best for us in all circumstances more than Hashem.  The truth however is that we do not always recognize, we do not always “taste” ,this sweetness.  With our honey, honey cake, tzimmes, and other honey products during the Yemei HaDin, we ask Hashem to shower us with those kinds of sweet things during the coming year in which we ourselves can actually taste, and savor the incredibly powerful and delectably delicious sweetness!



SHIRA!  In the Parasha (Devorim 31:19), we learn that Moshe Rabbeinu was instructed to “Sima Befihem--to put the Torah into our mouths.”  A Rav once explained that just as with a person who can be fed by others, but must swallow on his own, so too can the Torah (with all of the modern technological advancements and publications which assist us) be put into our mouth--but we still must ingest it on our own!  Additional Note:  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains why the Torah is suddenly referred to as Shira in the Parasha, especially when it comes to the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah.  If we were to simply view Torah study as a requirement, an obligation, the right thing to do, or the like--then it is not a Shira, a song to us, and it will be difficult for it to be 'written'--to have a Kiyum within us, and for the next generation.  We should reflect upon and appreciate the beauty and sweetness of Torah--the Shira of Torah!  For this is Torah study that is ‘written down’--that lasts and is everlasting!


Hakhel Note: Here is Shira in practice--START YESHIVAS MAICHAYIL EL CHAYIL IN YOUR SHUL OR COMMUNITY:  For the last several years we have seen the great success of Yeshivas Maichayil El Chayil--where men, boys, and fathers and son, COME BACK TO SHUL after a post Yom Kippur Seudah to study Torah for 45 minutes or an hour to show their rededication for the new year to the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah which is KeNeged Kulam. To spur the boys on, gifts and a raffles for Seforim and Yom Tov prizes can be offered--and those donating the funds for the prizes, and purchasing them certainly have a Chelek in Talmud Torah DeRabbim--on Motza’ei Yom Kippur!  Please bring in your Shul or community--and what a sweetening Zechus it will be for you and yours in the Yemei HaDin!  Please contact us if you have any questions.



SHOFAR ALERT: Some of the custom of reciting or looking at Yehi Ratzons after the initial blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah morning.  These Yehi Ratzons mention the names of Malochim.  Rabbi Ezra Rotkin, Shlita has brought to the community's attention a Teshuva from the Minchas Elazar who teaches that in some Machzorim--censors or other meshumadim were able to r'l implant oso ha'ish in the first Yehi Ratzon! The Artscroll and other more recent Machzor publications of the Machzor have removed this blight--but if you are using an older Machzor or know someone that is--and you recite or look at these Yehi Ratzons--please beware! 


Hakhel Note: Remember that the Bracha we will be making on the Shofar is not Lishmoa Shofar, but Lishmoa Kol Shofar--we are hearing the blast and all of the depth behind it!



SPECIAL MESSAGE! The three Tefillos of Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros are parallel to the three Yesodos HaEmunah of Metziyus Hashem (Malchiyos), Sechar VeOnesh (Zichronos), and Torah MiSinai (Shofros).  As we recite these very special Brachos, let us do so slowly and meaningfully--every word, every Pasuk is important!  Our careful following of the Chazzan’s repetition of each of the ten Pesukim of Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros is as if we recited them again!  Remember--This is a great part of the essence of Rosh Hashanah, and we will discuss it a bit further below.



A NEW KABBALA OPPORTUNITY! The Chofetz Chaim writes that when a person recites the words VeAhavta Es Hashem Elokecha, he should think about the Greatness of Hashem and how He gives life to all worlds, in comparison to one’s own smallness--and by this a person will recognize the goodnesses and gifts that Hashem constantly bestows upon him from the time he was born and through eternity.  If a person cannot focus on this during the Shema, the Chofetz Chaim continues, then at least he should try to think about it one time a day, and he suggests that this time may be after davening before one eats--just as other Mitzvos like Tefillin or Lulav, which one does not eat prior to their performance. What a wonderful pre-breakfast thought!



TEFILLAH FOR TESHUVA:  We provide by the following link--  http://tinyurl.com/2dm686  a tefillah, as published in the Sefer Kav HaYashar, for one’s self, one’s family members, and one’s friends to do Teshuva--especially invaluable at this time of year.





A. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei that “Yiras Hashem Tosif Yamim--the fear of Hashem provides us with additional life.”  It would be totally appropriate for us now to feel some real nervousness, some real fear before the Yom HaDin.  Of course, as we have pointed out, the fear should be coupled with a joy of knowing that our Teshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedakah can extricate us from a Din that we might chas veshalom otherwise deserve.


B. Specifically with respect to Tzedakah, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, points out that the words ‘miser’ and ‘misery’ are too closely related for comfort.  On the other hand, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that post-dated checks when given to a Tzedakah are counted for your immediate Zechus now before the Yom HaDin.  Let us take the time now to give additional Tzedakah, so that Hashem will, Middah K’Neged Middah treat us with additional Tzedakah on the Yom HaDin. Once again, consider the Yad Eliezer matches for Ofakim, Kiryat Sefer and Tzefat. Please call 718-258-1580 or visit www.yadeliezer.org today!


C. We once again reminder you of the following essential teaching: If one asks for forgiveness now, and does not wait until Erev Yom Kippur, he has most certainly increased his merits prior to the Yom HaDin.  May we additionally suggest that one make a special effort not to annoy others with his conduct or speech, for if one treats others with courtesy, pleasantness and caring, there is a Middah KeNeged Middah for him to be blessed with the same.  Hakhel Note: The Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 606, Sha’ar HaTziyun 8) provides us with a truly amazing teaching.  He rules that if someone forgives his friend for something his friend did against him b’meizid u’bimered--maliciously or intentionally--then Hashem will forgive him even for the Mezidin--the intentional acts that he commits.


D. Please remember to have all clothing that will be worn on Rosh Hashanah checked for Shatnez.  Shatnez clothing inhibits Tefillos from rising to the Shomayim (as discussed in detail in Praying with Fire II).  If there is any doubt whatsoever as to any item of clothing for men, women, or children, it is urgent that they be checked before being worn on Rosh Hashanah.


E. There is the story of a Russian citizen walking in the dark in the middle of the night.  The Russian army soldier ordered him to stop once, twice, and three times, but he did not.  Finally, the soldier said:  “In the name of Nikolai the Great I order you to stop!” but the citizen did not stop.  The soldier shot him in the leg and then learned that the gentlemen was no terrorist or criminal, but a person who did not want to be bossed around for nothing.  When the citizen sued the soldier for hurting him--the soldier’s answer--accepted by the court--was:  “If all else failed, when I ordered him to stop in the name of Nikolai he should have.”  We must recognize that the time has now come for us to stop and realize the importance of the moment.  As HaRav Dessler advises, if one would only take a look back at the events of the prior year--he must realize that they all emanated from the several days ahead of us.  Let us use them wisely--and to their utmost!


F.  The Poskim remind us that we dare not get angry on Rosh Hashanah--and Hashem will hopefully act in a similar manner towards us--Middah K'Neged Middah...and may it be a Siman Tov for the year! Let us begin practicing today--before Rosh Hashanah!


G. The Maharal (Gevuras Hashem Chapter 51) writes that the word “Shanah” (year) comes from the word “Shinui” (different, change) because each year is (or, at least, should be) different than the previous one.   Following this concept, Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the time of change.  In fact, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 603) brings a conduct change that it is customary to undertake during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (eating only Pas Yisrael breads, cakes, pretzels, etc.). However--why is this conduct change limited to the Aseres Yemei Teshuva and not extended for the whole year?  We know of two possible responses:


Response One:  The changes, while limited, demonstrate to the person the he can break previous “hergel”, day-in, day-out habits and practices.  Yes, it is hard to get out of a rut (coming late to Shul, hurting others with words, tossing brochos out of the mouth), but one can and one must do so.  The real bottom line is – If I am not for myself, who is for me--and if not now when?


Response Two:  When a new employee starts to work, he is sure to go well above and beyond the call of duty the first few days (arriving early, doing extra jobs, etc.).  Certainly, at this time of year, when you now realize you are working for the King of the entire World and Universe, you will do your absolute UTMOST.  By undertaking the specific Aseres Yemei Teshuva changes, and by doing additional mitzvos-by going above and beyond the call of duty-we demonstrate that we are working for the King anew, which is a nice step in the right direction.  If we can keep the awareness going…we will even “Keep the Change”!


H. From HaRav Dessler in a letter to his son in 5695:  “…My dear son, please remember what is before you, the Day of Judgment, which requires great preparation.  You must daven from the depths of the heart to arouse Rachamei Shomayim that we merit Heavenly Assistance, and that Hashem gives us success in attaining Teshuvah from the depths of the heart, for this is the ikar through which we can emerge innocent in justice B’Ezras Hashem. (Michtav M’Eliyahu Volume 4, page 313).”





A.  There are several reasons why challos on Rosh Hashanah are round (ibid., p. 206):


(a)   It is a Siman Tov, because round objects don’t have an end, symbolizing Arichus Yomim--life where there is no end in sight!

(b)   The round shape symbolizes unity among us--a King needs a unified nation!

(c)    The round shape is the shape of a crown.  This serves to remind us that even while eating our meal, we are involved in the Malchus of Rosh Hashanah.


B. FROM A READER: “Rabbi David Ordman told an audience of women at Um Ani Homa  in Bnai Brak that the best preparation for Rosh Hashanah is gratitude.  When we feel hakaros hatov for all that Hashem gives us, it brings us closer to Him and our awe of His greatness increases.  Rav Ordman recalled that Rav Elyashiv, Z'tl, once asked his son to teach him the correct English words to thank his American  surgeon.  When his son responded that he would be happy to thank the doctor in his father's name, Rav Elyashiv informed him that hakaros hatov may not be delivered by a shaliach and cited as proof our davening Shemone Esrei.  The congregation can be yotzei with every bracha along with the shaliach tzibur except for one—Modim!”


C.  Chazal teach that one who answers Amen properly is granted length of days and length of years.  Over Rosh Hashanah, perhaps we can try to improve our Amen response.  With Amen, you affirm that Hashem is your ‘Kel Melech Ne’eman.’  There are additional Kavanos as well, depending on what you are responding to, regarding which you can consult your Rav or teacher.


D. The Zohar (Parashas Noach) teaches that when we answer “Amen, Yehei Shemai Rabba” with all our strength, Hashem “becomes full of mercy” for us.  May we therefore suggest that, especially over the Yomim Noraim, when answering “Amen, Yehei Shemai Rabba” in Shul you look into the Siddur and concentrate on the words.


E.  Especially when davening on Rosh Hashanah, starting with Adon Olam, and throughout the davening, search for the word “Melech” and reflect from time-to-time on Hashem’s Malchus relationship with you.  One should also realize that with Hashem’s Malchus comes the awareness that despite one’s apparent wealth, one has nothing and owns nothing but for the beneficence of the King, and should humble himself in Prayer.  For further elucidation of this concept see Sefer Tomer Devorah Chapter 9 (Malchus). 


F.  HaRav Shlomo Volbe, Z’tl, reports that Rebbi Yisrael Salanter, Z’tl, would be “Ma’arich Meod--spend considerable time” with the words in Shemone Esrei of “Kasveinu BeSefer HaChayim LeMa’ancha Elokim Chayim”--for this is the hope of a human being that his life be imbued with LeMa’anecha--with fulfilling true purpose and meaning in life.  We do not want to only live--we want to live life to its real fullest.  Additional Note:  HaRav Wolbe asked HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, what to tell his students on Rosh Hashanah.  After many minutes of silence HaRav Levenstein told him “Zug Der Bnei Yeshiva Uss Iz A Ribbono Shel Olam in Der Velt--tell them that there is a Ribbono Shel Olam in the world.”  If one keeps this life-guiding thought on his mind, he will be focused and he will succeed.


G.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that when we ask Hashem to remember the Akeidas Yitzchok, we are not asking Hashem to recall a gigantic event of the past--but rather, a metziyus in Ruchniyus that was created by Avrohom Avinu at that time and continues through our day--it is a metziyus of Mesiras Nefesh of Avrohom Avinu and Yitzchok Avinu to do the will of Hashem.  By referring to it, we connect ourselves to the Mesiras Nefesh of the Avos which still exists in the world. 


H. In truth, the Ruchniyus of our deeds--for the good and for the bad--also continue on in the world and do not dissipate after the Mitzvah, or r’l aveirah, has been performed.  When one does Teshuvah then, explains HaRav Friedlander, he is not erasing an event of the past--he is eliminating the current metziyus of negative Ruchniyus that exists as a result of the sin. Teshuvah transforms any inappropriate Ruchniyus that was created and exists into a Ruchniyus that gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem.  It is essential that we realize and act on this on Rosh Hashana.


I.  Regarding the concept of crying during one’s Tefilos on Rosh Hashana, one should be sure to consult with his Rav.  One thing, however, is certain--whether or not one cries tears, one should certainly cry out. 


J.  HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl, asks why it is that of all of the possible Chapters of Tehillim to recite before Tekias Shofar do we recite Chapter 47, which is Lamnatzeiach Livnei Korach.  He importantly answers that this Chapter reminds us of the Bnei Korach who were saved at the last possible moment from going to the depths of Gehennom.  Thus, with an earnest Hirhur Teshuva one can still now, a very short time before Din, save himself as the Tekios are blown!


K.  RebbiYisroel Salanter, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ohr Yisrael writes that the time of Tekias Shofar, when one is judged on his deeds, is like the time that the Kohein Gadol entered the Kodesh HaKodashim.  Accordingly, during the time of Tekias Shofar, one should consider himself-- and feel--as if he in the innermost chambers of the Bais HaMikdash.  One must, of course, have Hirhurei Teshuva before entering. 


L.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda (Sha’ar 11, Chapter 3) writes: “And with each and every Tekiah that a person hears from the Tokea, he should with great joy think--‘With my listening to this Tekiah, I am fulfilling a Mitzvas Asei of Hashem, and I want to give Hashem Nachas Ruach with this.’ 


M.  Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Z’tl, teaches that even slight daydreaming may lead a person, who is otherwise listening to the Tekias Shofar, to not realize which blast is actually being blown.  This may result in his losing a Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa on this great day.  Accordingly, he urges each one of us to keep his finger in the Machzor on the Shofar blast that is then being blown.  Additional Note:  Lehalacha if one steps out after the initial 30 blasts to use the facilities, he does make an Asher Yatzar, notwithstanding that the 100 blasts have not yet been completed.


N.  As we hear the order of Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah, Tekiah, we realize that the first sound may represent us in our current state--solid--believing that we are doing pretty well as a Shomer Torah U’Mitzvos in a spoiled, degenerate and perhaps even decadent environment and world--and that our behavior is really a Tekiah.  However, upon a little thought, reflection and analysis represented by the Teshuva process--we arrive at Shevarim, we break ourselves down a little bit and realize that there really is something to correct.  Once we have opened up the thought process enough, we get to Teruah, in which we thoroughly break through, shattering our self-contained aggrandizements and illusions--and realize that much work is to be done for us to reach our true and great potential.  If we go through the process of Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah--then we will be able to complete it with another Tekiah--a new and different Tekiah of advancement in Avodas Hashem.  If one repeats the process enough--he can complete it in its entirety-- resulting in a Tekiah Gedolah!


O.  We must remember that the most essential part of Tefillas Mussaf both for the individual in his recitation of Mussaf silently, and in the Chazaras HaShatz, are the 10 Pesukim of Malchiyos, the 10 Pesukim of Zichronos, and the 10 Pesukim of Shofros.  One should very much endeavor to understand the meaning of the words of each of the Pesukim as he is reciting them.  It takes time.  One must also be very careful to follow the Shatz as he recites these Pesukim--as although they follow many Piyutim, and one may be tired, they are actually the most essential part of the Chazoras HaShatz.  These Pesukim are extraordinary, for through them one accepts upon himself Ohl Malchus Shomayim, and through them Hashem remembers us for the good.  Remember--Hashem in His abundant kindness, gives us the opportunity to recite theses Pesukim on our own, and then to carefully listen to the Shatz recite them again.  If you are a Shaliach Tzibbur, who has already put great Kochos into the meaningful Piyutim, please remember that when the Mishna in Maseches Rosh Hashanah talks about Tefillas Mussaf it talks about these Pesukim as the essence of Mussaf--so please recite them meaningfully, with deep feeling and intent. 


P.  We present below the essential words of the Sefer HaChinuch teaching his son both about Rosh Hashanah, and about the meaning of the blowing of the Shofar.  The following is excerpted from the masterful translation of the Sefer HaChinuch by Rabbi Charles Wengrov (Feldheim Publishers).


First, with respect to Rosh Hashanah (Mitzvah 311):


“… on this day all human beings in the world are judged for their deeds.  Chazal said by way of imagery--to make it clear that His providential regard extends over the activity of every single individual, and not over the species in a general way--that all human beings pass before Him like sheep in single file--in other words, one by one, and not mingled together.


“Well, at the root of the precept of this holy season lies the theme that it is of God’s kindnesses toward His human beings to recall them and regard their deeds one day in every single year, so that the iniquities should not become a great many, and there should be room for atonement.  Abundant in His kindness (Exodus 32:6), He tips [the scales of justice] toward loving-kindness, and if they [the sins] are few, He pardons and clears them away.  And if there are wrong deeds among them that require cleansing, He exacts payment for them bit by bit, in keeping with what Chazal taught (Avoda Zara 4A):  ‘From his friend, a man will collect his debt bit by bit.’  But if He would not call the sins to account for a long time, then they [the sins] would become so very many, until the world would almost incur destruction, Heaven forbid.


“Consequently, this distinguished day ensures the endurance of the world.  It is therefore fitting to make it a festival day that it should be in the list of the precious holy times of the year.  However, since it is the ordained time for everyone alive to be judged, it is proper to behave then with reverent fear and awe, more than on all other holy times of the year.  This is the reason for the theme of the ‘memorial of the Shofar—sound’ (Leviticus 23:24) mentioned with it:  for the teruah (Shofar--sound) is a broken call, to intimate that everyone should break the force of his evil inclination and have remorse for his bad deeds.”


As the Sefer HaChinuch continues his instructions to his son with respect to the Mitzvah of Shofar (Mitzvah 405):


“At the root of the precept lies the reason that since man is a creature of physical matter, he is not aroused to things except by something stirring, in the way that people at the time of battle will sound horns and even shriek, in order to be well aroused to war.  Then so, too, on the day of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year, which is the day determined of old for all those who came into the world to be judged on it...  For this reason everyone needs to arouse his nature to entreat mercy for his sins from the Master of mercies; for Hashem is gracious and compassionate, forgives iniquity, wrongdoing and sin, and absolves those who turn back to Him with all their heart.  Now, the sound of the Shofar greatly stirs the heart of all who hear it, and all the more certainly the sound of the teruah, which means the broken (quavering) peal.


“Apart from the arousal that is inherent in it, there is a reminder for man to break the impulse of his heart that is evil with the cravings and sinful matters of the world, as he hears the broken (quavering) sounds.  For every person, according to what he sees with his eyes and hears with his ears, will prepare his heart…This is why R. Yehudah said:  ‘On Rosh Hashanah, a shofar [horn] from male animals is to be blown’--in other words, the bent (curved) horn of rams, so that a man should remember when he sees it that he is to bend his heart in subservience to Heaven...”


Hakhel Note: It is clear from the Sefer HaChinuch that it is our mission at this time of year to experience feelings, true feelings.  Feelings of love, feelings of fear, feelings of awe, feelings of reconciliation, and feelings of happiness.  We must take a few moments to close our eyes and come to ourselves, perhaps with a few tears to show for it.  It is interesting to note that there may be both tears of sadness and tears of joy, but they are both tears--for they both represent what lies within us being brought forth.


Let us properly prepare for Hashem’s Kingship over the world, by first experiencing kingship over ourselves!




We must remember how precious the moments on Rosh Hashanah are, and when we feel we are tiring, refresh ourselves--as we pray for our lives, the lives of K’lal Yisrael and the lives of the world! Remember, there are no limits to what we can accomplish with Siyata D’Shmaya, and just one sincere Tefillah can get us there!


Once again, we wish each and every one of you a Kesiva VeChasima Tova, a Year which is replete with Chaim Tovim and Shalom!



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