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22 Marcheshvan

UPDATED HAKHEL GEMACH LIST!: The 5779 Hakhel Gemilas Chesed List, which provides contact information for hundreds of Chasodim in the New York Metropolitan area (with special sections for Queens, the Five Towns, Crown Heights, Monsey and Lakewood), is now available on the home page of Hakhel’s website  www.hakhel.info. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LIST IS FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY and cannot be reprinted or reproduced for any other reason, whether as part of a tzedaka or commercial venture or otherwise, without the express written consent of Hakhel, which will be given only on a case-by-case basis. For further information, please call: 718-253-5497.



TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Chofetz Chaim (5:5) importantly writes “Me’od Yeish Lizaher --one must be very, very careful not to speak negatively against someone based on the premise that “I don’t mean to hurt him or put him down--I mean it for the to’eles that will result”, unless one is sure that the Halachic conditions for relating what would otherwise be derogatory information are really, truly satisfied. IF IN DOUBT, don’t say it! The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline is here to help us all in the real life situations and circumstances we face our find ourselves in --718-951-3696, between the hours of 9-10:30 pm New York time. Expert Poskim are there to guide you to make the RIGHT choice-free of charge.



WHEN? Chazal teach that each and every one of us is obligated to say the words “Masai Yagia Ma’asai LeMa’asheh Avosai, LeMa’asei Avrohom Yitzchok VeYaakov”--when will my deeds reach those of my forefathers--the deeds of Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov.  HaRav Yaakov Naiman, Z’tl, provides the following explanations to this extremely important teaching:


1.  A person must aspire to reach the level of the Avos.  Even if this may seem impossible, the desire and ambition must be there.  Indeed, he continues, Napoleon is reported to have said that a soldier who does not aspire to become a general--will not succeed even at being a good foot soldier. 


2.  One should actually place an emphasis on what one has learned from the ma’asim of the Avos in Sefer Bereishis--to treat guests with great respect, to run to do Mitzvos, to daven for others…TO TAKE SPECIFIC AND REAL ACTION to bring the world to perfection.


Hakhel Note: As noted above, Chazal teach that one is obligated to say these words--Masai Yagia...it is reported that HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, was unsure how often to say (and obviously think about applying) these words--so he made sure to do so every day!



HOW TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE:  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, teaches that not once does the Torah record any vikuchim, any debates that Avrohom Avinu had, either in Ur Kasdim, in Charan or in Cana’an.  Instead, the Torah began Parashas Vayeirah by showing the great lengths to which Avrohom Avinu went to find guests, common wayfarers, so that he could show them hospitality and have them realize how Hashem takes care of them.  Then, right before the akeidah, the Torah once again writes:  “Vayitah Eishel Bive’er Sheva Vayikrah Sham Besheim Hashem Kel Olam--and Avrohom Avinu set up an inn, and through it he was able to call out in the name of Hashem, as the Master of the World.”  So, from the beginning through the end, Avrohom Avinu’s success was not by lecturing to the non-believers, but by giving to them, and through this bringing them to Hashem.  Rav Erlanger related that in the earlier years of Bnei Brak there were some mechalelei Shabbos in town.  There was a person who would wash his car every Shabbos in public to the shock of the Bnei Yeshiva.  One of the bochurim went to Rav Shach, Z’tl, to ask him what he should do.  HaRav Shach answered-”You take care of his gashmiyus, and Hashem will take care of his ruchniyus.” 


How did HaRav Shach know this?  HaRav Erlanger suggests that it was from Avrohom Avinu.  Avrohom’s Derech HaChaim was one of giving.  Through giving to another, one establishes a relationship, an understanding with him that all you want to do is help--and if I am helping here then I am also helping there, and also mean to help over there and over there as well. 


As we see in this week’s Parasha, it was Efron who spoke a lot, but gave nothing.  On the other hand, Avrohom Avinu who gave was known by the very people of Efron as the Nesi Elokim--the prince among them. 


One final story from HaRav Erlanger to bring home the point:  Petach Tikvah was a small city in Eretz Yisrael which was established as a religious moshav.  In 1947/48, times were very difficult, and the young couples were struggling with their frumkeit.  The local avreichim, Kollel students got together to see what could be done.  They decided to bring great Rabbanim from Yerushalayim to give shiurim to the young couples in Halacha and Hashkafa.  Rav Wolbe, then a young man, thought that they were a step ahead of themselves.  First, he said, let us raise money and give it to the young couples to help them.  Then, we can bring in the Maggidei Shiur.  The others strongly disagreed:  “These people need to be educated,” they said.  Because of the disagreement in approach, Rav Wolbe went to the Chazon Ish.  The Chazon Ish told him that his approach was correct.


Be good, be giving, then the right thing will happen.  This is the legacy that has been passed down to us from generation to generation--directly from Avrohom Avinu! 



CAPTURE THE MOMENT!:  We especially note that Chazal (Brachos 26B) learn from a Pasuk in this week’s Parasha (Bereishis 24:63) that Yitzchak Avinu instituted Tefillas Mincha. We remind our readers that in Praying With Fire II, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita brings the powerful teaching of the Rashba (Shailos U’Teshuvos HaRashba 5:1):  Just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon ( most auspicious period for Heavenly Grace) of each year, so too is our daily davening of tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of each day.  Eliyahu HaNavi actually waited until Mincha time to pleadfully exclaim “Aneini Hashem Aneini--O’ answer me Hashem, O’ answer me!”  Chazal therefore teach that we should be ever-so-careful with Mincha--for although we are in the middle of the day’s activities, and people, places and events swirl around us--a Kavannah-laden Tefillah can soar to unparalleled heights at this most efficacious time of the day.  Let us focus--for we have an Aseres Yemei Teshuva-like opportunity every day-and do not have to wait ten months to attain it! 


Additional Notes on Tefillas Mincha: 


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


2.  If possible, one should try to give Tzedakah before each Tefillah as well. 


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


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


5.  After davening Mincha, it is a wonderful idea to spend an extra few moments learning a Mishna, a Halacha, a Pasuk with Rashi, or reciting a Chapter of Tehillim slowly--so that one takes the elevated time and continues to remain elevated for a few moments longer.  Over the course of a year, one will have learned an extra 365 Mishnayos, Halachos or Pesukim, or recited 365 chapters of Tehillim.  How beautiful!



21 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT: Our love of Hashem should draw us to helping others do Teshuvah as well. We were pointed to a Rashi (Bereishis 18:1), which states that Avraham Avinu was searching not for an Oreiach—but for an over v’shav—literally a passerby, but with a special meaning of one who had done aveiros and now would do Teshuvah. We should try to look for opportunities in which we can lovingly and gently guide others in areas which they need to be assisted with the right Halacha. 



THE FIRE OF TORAH: The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, over the course of any given weekday was advised of a tremendous amount of problems and tzaros that people from all over the world faced.  He also must have undoubtedly had his own personal and family challenges in life as well.  How, then, could he have had the Yishuv Ha’Daas--the presence of mind and the clarity of thought-- to produce such great works as the Kehillas Yaakov and his other seforim?  This may be the answer:  He once remarked that when it came time for him to learn, he put all else out of his mind and concentrated entirely on the Torah in front of him.  This is an immense and meaningful lesson for us.  While we may be unable to produce Seforim like the Steipeler, we too can make the effort to focus when we are studying--to the exclusion of all else.  With problems out of mind, without letting the mind wander, without responding to buzzing or vibrations, or even to phone calls (unless they are really, truly, absolutely necessary), one will be demonstrating that he too has or wants to have the attitude and approach, the respect and reverence, for the study of Torah that the Gedolei Hador know is necessary to succeed. 


Additional Notes:


1.      HaRav Avrohom Yaffen, Z’tl was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Navordok and the author of the Sefer Derech Aison and other works, and was constantly sought after for advice and guidance --with lines of people coming to see him. Once while in Bialystok, his son-in-law, HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, asked him how he ever had a chance to learn if he was constantly besieged by others seeking Brachos and counsel.  He responded that he studied in the five minute intervals between one person and another.  “For if a person cannot focus and concentrate in the five minutes that he has, than he cannot do it in the five hours that he has either….”


2.      Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, notes that the word ‘Aish’ in ‘Aish HaTorah’ is an acronym for Ahava and Simcha--love and joy--for if a person truly learns with love and joy--with true appreciation of the opportunity--his Torah study will be not only be a spark --but a flame of Kedusha to light and warm a world of darkness!



AN AMAZING LESSON FOR TODAY’S TIMES!  The twentieth letter of the Chofetz Chaim in the Michtevei Chofetz Chaim is entitled Ma’amar Chizuk HaEmunah. For those who have the Michtevei Chofetz Chaim, we urge that you read the letter inside. For those who do not, the Chofetz Chaim provides the following moving teaching:


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


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


Now, let us look around us--the tzaros of K’lal Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and around the world, the ruchniyus of K’lal Yisrael so badly suffering--from the uneducated majority of our people--through the teens-at-risk. We can most certainly rationalize a level of flawed Emunah--how could the Geulah come in our lowly state--can the Geulah really come now?! It can, and will--through Teshuvah Sheleimah, Torah and Ma’asim Tovim.


We must do what we can in order to greet the Moshiach B’Simcha--one who prepares for his coming each and every day--one who acts B’Emunah Sheleimah will bask in and reap all of the benefits--BeKarov BeMeheirah V’Yameinu!



SHIDDUCHIM! In the coming week’s Parasha, Chayei Sarah, the Torah focuses on finding one’s bashert. Upon reflection, the Torah teaches not only how Yitzchok Avinu was paired with Rivka, but also how Adam was given Chava, Yaakov Avinu introduced to Rochel, and Moshe Rabeinu to Tziporah.  It is rare (to say the least) for the Torah to repeat one kind of event, albeit important, more than once.  Here, however, the basic reason for the repetition seems clear:  the primary importance of shidduchim as a basis for humanity, and for the continuation of K’lal Yisrael.  In assisting others--whether they are immediate family, distant family, friends or acquaintances, to find their zivug hagun--their proper mate, we are participating directly in a most sublime Chesed.  As far as we know, the only human state that the Torah expressly calls “not good” is for man to be alone (Bereishis 2:18).  If we are truly looking to help others, we should certainly help them to rid themselves of a “not good” status.  Moreover, if it is not good for them, it is not good for us, because all of our lives, and all of K’lal Yisrael, are inextricably bound together.


We once again provide our annual Parashas Chayei Sarah Appeal:


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


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


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


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


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


May our year be replete with…“Mazel-Tov!!”



20 Marcheshvan

TESHUVA MOMENT:  Chazal (Shabbos 105B) teach that anger could actually lead, R’L, to avoda zara.  Before getting ready to strongly express how upset you really are--think: “This can really lead to avoda zara. Chazal say so.  How wrong! Stop!!” You will be so much the better for it....





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


Hakhel Note:  A major figure in the Kiruv movement in the United States advised us that ‘Kiruv Rechokim’ was an inappropriate term--for who could really tell if someone already presumably ‘Karov’ was really more ‘Rachok’ than others. The appropriate term for all, he advised, was Ahavas Yisrael!


2. “Rav Shach, Zt’l, asks why it is that Chazal specifically highlight Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah as two mitzvos that should be performed “b’tznius--discretely.  After all, there are plenty of other Mitzvos that Chazal could have used as an example of Chesed--b’tznius. Why pick something that seems the exact opposite of what is done “b’tznius”?  Rav Shach explains that Chazal specifically use these two examples to teach us that the Ikar Mitzvah of Halvoyas Hameis and Hachnosas Kallah is the feeling behind it, not the action. Simply going to a wedding and dancing, and “going to a Levaya” is not the complete Mitzvah of Hachnosas Kallah and Halvoyas Hameis. Feeling happy for the Chosson & Kallah and feeling sad for the Aveil (as evidenced by Halvayas HaMeis and at Nichum Aveilim) is what Chazal meant by using these two examples.  Chessed is not a perfunctory act--but an act that energizes the good actions of the body--with the thoughtfulness of the soul!”



THE FIVE MINUTES FOR YOURSELF ACTION PROJECT:  Throughout the day we are beset by so many requirements and requests—whether at home, in the office, or elsewhere, it does not appear that we have the five minutes a day that we need to think about how we can fix or solve the issues or items in which the same mistakes, or repeated need-to-fix, below par, or mediocre performances, occur daily.  Now, during a five minute segment of the day of your own choosing (it may be while eating breakfast, while walking towards the bus, or when especially sitting on the couch for this five minute project), you can figure out how to better yourself in just minutes a day.  What can I do the night before to make my wake- up process easier?  What can I do to make better brachos—after all, I am reciting them anyway, I believe in them…?  How can I stop myself when I realize that I am getting angry, or from making the sharp comments that I make when I am tired?  In what way will I reward myself if I learn something I have been meaning to get to, but have not found the time?  What’s missing on my block or in my neighborhood that can easily be rectified?  What’s missing in my life that is within my capability to fix? Who do I really owe a phone call to?  What Halacha/Shaila keeps coming up that I keep on forgetting to ask the Rav about?  You can take it from here--the point is that a person should not allow a day to go by in which he did not take some time to catch up with--and elevate--himself. 



A BRACHA AFORETHOUGHT: In his approbation to the Sefer V’Zos HaBracha [one of the most popular Seforim on Hilchos Brachos in Eretz Yisrael, by Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita], HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, writes that when reciting a Bracha, aside from the necessary Kavanos when reciting the words, one must be sure to think that he is not a ‘Kafoi Tova’--a denier of the good and instead, that he is a ‘Makir Tova’--that he recognizes the good that Hashem is bestowing/has bestowed upon him and that he is expressing it with this Bracha.  Hakhel Note:  What a great way to focus prior to making any Bracha!



‘CHESED L’AVROHOM’: Last week’s Parasha teaches us the ‘Chesed L’Avrohom’ which is, and must continue to be, and grow and shine as, a hallmark of his descendants.  We provide below several excerpts from the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer Ahavas Chesed, which provides so many essential Halachos and Hashkafos of Chesed, as a concomitant foundation of the World (Olam Chesed Yiboneh), the Torah (Techilaso Chesed VeSofo Chesed), and K’lal Yisrael (Sholosh Middos Yesh Bohem, Rachmonim...U’Gomlei Chasodim). The Chofetz Chaim teaches as follows:


1. If a person does kindness on earth, he awakens Chesed above, and the day is crowned with Chesed through his actions. Happy is the man who exhibits the proper conduct below, since all depends on his act to awaken the corresponding activity above.


2. One should be especially careful not to neglect practicing Chesed even for a single day of his life, *in the same way* that one takes care to set fixed times for daily Torah study.


3. The Gimmel and Daled of the Aleph Bais teach that we are to be Gomel Dalim--to act benevolently to the poor, to the extent that just as the foot of the Gimel stretched to the Daled, so too is it fitting for us to run after the mitzvah of performing kindness to another, not waiting for them to come to us for assistance.


4. When blessed with guests, one should promptly place food and drink before them, since the visitor may be ashamed to ask. When serving them, the host should be gracious, hiding his troubles from them, for he may break their spirit, when it is really his role to revive them and boost their spirits.  If the guest sleeps over, the host should give him the best bed available, since it is very important for the weary to rest comfortably.  Sometimes, the host who provides the guest with the opportunity to rest comfortably does better by him than in giving him food and drink....


5. There are many types of Chesed performed by word of mouth, for instance to pray that Hashem heal the sick.  This is included in the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim. A similar chesed of prayer applies to a situation in which harm threatens a person even if he does not know about it.  This we learn from Avrohom Avinu, who interceded on behalf of the people of Sodom in just such an instance. 





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


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


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


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


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




TESHUVAH MOMENT: “When bowing during Tefillah, one should remember that beyond the physical aspect, it consists of two elements: (i) a demonstration of humility due to Hashem’s greatness; and (ii) gratitude for all of His constant unlimited kindness to us.” [Excepted from Secret Steps to Greatness by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger and Aaron Mordechai Benscher in the name of HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl]



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



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



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



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





A. Erev Shabbos Children’s Alert Reminders from Hatzalah:


1.                  Consult a Rav concerning where to light Shabbos candles when young children are             present.

2.                  Never leave children unattended with burning candles.

3.                  After lighting candles have someone place matches securely away.

4.                  Place the spout of a hot water urn away from counter edge.  Do not use an extension cord or leave it within child’s reach.

5.                  Children should not be in the kitchen while preparations for Shabbos are being made.

6.                  Start Shabbos preparations early .Last minutes rushing causes hazardous and hectic situations.

7.                  Never hold a child while drinking hot liquids.

8.                  Take all phones off the hook before bathing children.

9.                  Have all necessary equipment with you before putting your child in a bath.

10.             Never, under any circumstances, leave a child alone in the tub-not even for a moment!  Take the child with you!


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


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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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



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



16 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:54) writes that one is obligated to actively contemplate eitzos hagunos u’mesukanos to help one’s friend--and that this is one of the ikarim of Gemilus Chassodim. If one would take a few moments each day to fulfill these holy words, he would indicate his special dedication to Chesed.



FROM COR OF GREATER DETROIT: “KELLOGG’S CEREALS: The following “Limited Edition” Kellogg’s cereals do not bear a K or OU symbol and are not certified Kosher, due to the addition of marshmallows (which contain non-Kosher gelatin): Apple Jacks with Spooky Marshmallows, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Spooky Marshmallows, and Froot Loops with Spooky Marshmallows. Other Kellogg’s cereals that contain marshmallows or gelatin are also not certified, including Frosted Mini-Wheats (all varieties), Rice Krispies Treats cereal, and some others. Kellogg’s cereals that are Kosher bear an OU or OU-D symbol on newer packages. Older packages that bear a K or KD are also OU approved, except for Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Cereal, which is not OU approved even when the package bears a K.”



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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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




TESHUVAH MOMENT: An essential part of our day is giving people the benefit of the doubt in various situations and circumstances, which sometimes can be quite difficult. By the following link we provide a short Tefillah to be recited to be dan l’chaf zechus (which we have provided in the past). May we suggest that in order to demonstrate a sincere yearning to improve in this area, that one bli neder undertake to recite the Tefillah daily for 30 days.




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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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




TESHUVAH MOMENT: “Every day, a heavenly voice cries out “Return, children, return.” Although we cannot hear the heavenly voice, our neshama “hears” the voice that awakens our heart, causing the hirhur teshuvah that we experience. This hirhur teshuvah represents an awakening from spiritual slumber, without which teshuvah cannot occur. The awakening leads to a small elevation: a crack in the armor of defilement that surrounds the heart, which in turn leads to the potential for complete teshuvah.” [The Power of Teshuvah, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, p. 69]




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



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



SHORT TEST: Which of the following phrases are not Ona’as Devorim?


1. Where is your Seichel?

2. Act your age

3. What’s with you?

4. Hel-lo!

5. Zei Gezunt


Hakhel Note: You can prepare your own test based upon the phrases you may otherwise say or hear!





In last week’s Parasha:


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


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


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



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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



13 Marcheshvan

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





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


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



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



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



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



QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kedusha requires effort. If one does not pay attention to his actions, he will go downhill in the ordinary course. If one does not make the effort to come to davening on time, he will find himself coming to davening later (and later). If one does not consider learning more, he may lose a Chavrusa here, and a daily Mishna Seder there. If one is not proactive in performing Chesed, he will find himself doing less of it. Life needs sustenance not only by eating and sleeping, but by the conscious effort to improve spiritually. One must be diligent not get caught up with the rush of society and apparent daily stresses--and be sure to remind himself that he is a descendant of Yaakov Avinu--who was taught by Hashem to take steps up the very important ladder--of life!  [Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, at a Hakhel Yarchei Kallah]



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





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


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


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


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



10 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT: As we study the greatness of Avrohom Avinu in this week’s Parasha, we should discuss with others (at the Shabbos table or otherwise), how we can improve our acts of Chesed in a way which would give Avrohom Avinu nachas!



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


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



THESE DAYS OF MARCHESHVAN:  The Luach Davar BeIto provides the following reminders to us relating to today--the tenth day of Marcheshvan, and tomorrow, the eleventh day of Marcheshvan:


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


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


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


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


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


Some say, that HaRav Shmuelevitz himself answered the question by explaining that while a father (Hashem) could tell his daughter to calm down and not cry, a child (such as HaRav Shmuelevitz) could ask his mother to show a special care and concern for her children. A second explanation is given in the name of HaRav Moshe Aharon Stern, Z’tl, who teaches that Hashem, by telling Rochel that she didn’t have to cry, was actually inviting further supplication and tears.  HaRav Stern draws the parallel to Hashem’s response to the sin of the Golden Calf, where He tells Moshe Rabbeinu “Leave me alone and I will destroy them,” even though Moshe had not yet asked for mercy from Hashem for the Chait HaEigel (See Shemos 32:10 and Rashi there).


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


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





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


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


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


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






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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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



9 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT:  What will I do better today than I did yesterday?



FROM A READER:THE PITFALLS OF MATERIAL WEALTH:  The deleterious effect of an overabundance of material possessions can be illustrated by the following pasuk from this week’s Parasha, which contains an unusual word order:  “Vayikchu Es Lot V’es Rachusho Ben Achi Avram…--and they took Lot and his possessions, the son of Avram’s brother (Bereishis 14:12).”  Could it actually be that Avram’s blood relative was the material wealth of Lot, as the Pasuk appears to read?  Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, Shlita (Morah D’asra of Kehilas Ahavas Yisroel, Cedarhurst, and Maggid Shiur, Kollel Agra D’pirka, Kew Gardens Hills), quoting Rav Schwab, Z’tl, explains that Lot’s interest in his wealth actually interfered with his relationship with his uncle.  It caused his physical separation from Avram (Bereishis 13:11)--and moreover we see from the special wording in this posuk that Lot’s physical possessions actually stood between the two, as well.”



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



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



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



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


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


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


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


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



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


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



8 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:15) expressly teaches that although the people of Sedom were guilty of many perverse acts including robbery, violence, miscarriage of justice and arayos, the Pasuk (Yecheskel 16:49) attributes their destruction and annihilation to bitul hatzedakos—the transgression of not practicing charity. When charity opportunities come our way, let us be sure to give them their proper high regard!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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







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


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


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


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


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


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


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



7 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT: Every morning in Shacharis, we recite the Pasuk “Yehi Chevod Hashem L’Olam Yismach Hashem B’Ma’asav—May the glory of Hashem endure forever, let Hashem rejoice in His works.” When reciting this Pasuk, one should reflect upon the fact that he is one of Hashem’s works…and that he must strive to make Hashem happy with his words and actions!


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



A PIECE OF CAKE--OR A COOKIE? If one intends to eat both a piece of cake and a cookie--which of the two should he make a Borei Minei Mezonos on? All things being equal, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 168, seif katan 1) writes that it is a Hidur Mitzvah to make the bracha on the shaleim (the Mishna Berurah’s ruling there is with respect to different bread items).



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



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



HALACHOS OF BIRCHOS HASHACHAR: The following notes are excerpted from the Mishna Berurah Hilchos Birchos Hashachar (Dirshu Edition):




A. The Shulchan Aruch writes that the reason we recite various parts of Karbanos in the morning is so that every day one will be sure to learn Mikra, Mishna and Gemara. The Mishna Berurah, however, notes that one is only credited with learning Mishna and Gemara if he understands what he is saying--otherwise it is not considered to be learning. There is a fascinating additional thought here. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchos Talmud Torah2:13) writes that one should try to learn Mishna and Gemara even if he does not understand them, and L’Asid Lavohe will be able to understand that which he tried to understand here. The Chida adds that the attempt itself is considered Talmud Torah, and that if one understands the words but not the concept being conveyed, this also constitutes the Mitzvah of Torah study. The foregoing relates to Torah She’be’al Peh. With respect to Torah Shebichsav, even if one does not understand what he is reciting--as long as he realizes that he is reciting these words, the Shelah HaKadosh writes that he fulfills the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. The Chida writes that this is true of the study of the Zohar as well--one should study even if he does not understand it, and it is “mesugal leha’ir es hanefesh-- enlighten the person’s soul!” (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 50:1, Mishna Berurah seif katan 2, and Dirshu Note 3)


B. Once one has commenced Boruch She’amar he cannot speak about other matters until after Tachanun. The prohibition to speak even makes it impermissible to recite the words “Boruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo” when reciting a bracha. It is permissible to recite “Amen” on any bracha that one hears, even if one is in the middle of a Pasuk in Pesukei D’Zimra, if it is at the end of a thought. It is also permissible to answer Modim D’Rabanan and to recite the first Pasuk of Kriyas Shema with the Tzibbur if they are then reciting it. One should also respond to Barchu and recite the Pesukim of Kedusha together with the Tzibur. One should not, however, answer “Amen” to Veyatzmach Purkanei, but should answer “Amen” to the rest of Kaddish.  It is also permissible to recite a Birchos Hoda’ah (such as a bracha on lighting and thunder), and Asher Yatzar in Pesukei D’Zimra. It is preferable to recite the Asher Yatzar at certain points which constitute “bein haperakim” (interim points) in Pesukei D’Zimra. (see SA OC 51:4 Mishna Berurah seif katan 8 and 9, Bi’ur Halacha d’h Tzarich and Dirshu Note 12) Hakhel Note: It would be a good idea to mark the Bein HaPerakim of Pesukei D’Zimra in your siddur.


Hakhel Note: To be clear, it is not the Mishna Berurah who rules that one would not answer “Amen” afterV’Yatzmach Purkanei. It is the ruling of the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 4:14). We add that the Igros Moshe also rules that one would not answer “Amen” while reciting Pesukei D’Zimra to the Yehei Shelama Rabba and Oseh Shalom Bimromav portions of Kaddish as well. Once again, the Mishna Berurah itself does not make these distinctions.


C. The main reason that we recite Ashrei daily is to recite the Pasuk of “Poseiach Es Yadecha U’Masbia Lechol Chai Ratzon”--this is a Shevach to Hashem and we should have Kavannah that He is Mashgiach Ahl Briyosav U’Mefarnisan--that Hashem watches over His creations and sustains them. The Magein Avrohom brings from the Rabbeinu Bachya that when reciting these words one should think about the Nifla’os Hashem, Hashem’s greatness and His chesed towards us. This will keep a person distant from sin, and bring him great zechusim! If one realizes that he did not have Kavannah in reciting the Pasuk Poseiach Es Yadecha he should begin again fromPoseiach Es Yadecha until the end of the Kepitel. If one realizes that he did not have Kavannah when he is well beyond that spot and does not have the opportunity to return, he should at least recite from Poseiach Es Yadechauntil the end of the Kepitel after davening. (SA OC 51:6 Mishna Berurah seif katan 15 and 16 and Dirshu Note 18)


D. The Arizal would give Tzedaka in a standing position when reciting the words V’Ata Moshel Bakol (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 19).


E. The ikar of Pesukei D’Zimra is from Ashrei through Kol HaNeshama Tehalel Kah. (SA OC 52 Mishna Berurah seif katan 4)


F. If a woman is davening in Shul with the tzibbur but comes late, there is a machlokes haposkim as to whether she should skip in order to begin Shemone Esrei with the tzibur or not. The concept of skipping in order to begin Shemone Esrei with the tzibur is not lechatechila at all--as a man must come to Shul on time so that he does not need to skip. The Maggid (the malach) who learned with the Beis Yosef taught him that one must be careful not to skip in order to ‘catch-up’ because when doing so he overturns the tzinoros--the channels--through which our Tefillah travels. If it happens that one did come late, then there is a specific order of priority. There is a machlokes haposkim as to whether one must make-up that which he skipped after davening. (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 1-3, and Dirshu Note 3)



6 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT:  The Pasuk that we recite from Tehillim before Shemone Esrei, “Hashem Sefasai Tiftach U’Fi Yagid Tehilasecha” actually comes from the Kepitel of Teshuvah (Tehillim 51). Perhaps this is an allusion to us to have a hirhur Teshuvah before commencing Shemone Esrei!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Who is the first person in the Torah to say the words “Baruch Hashem”? Hint: It is not in this week’s Parasha!



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



CHOCHMA! Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Koheles (2:12) that HeChochom Einav B’Rosho--the wise man’s eyes are in his head. The Meforshim explain that a wise man thinks about the consequences of his proposed actions--and acts accordingly.


Hakhel Note: Let us learn what wisdom is from the wisest!



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





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


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





 Everything that happens is from Hashem, 

and has it’s reason.

Our job is to turn 

what seems like a mess,

into His message.



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


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


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



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


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



HOW DO YOU EAT? As we move further away from the Yomim Noraim, and perhaps treat ourselves in a less restrictive manner, we should be vigilant over how we conduct ourselves when eating--the way our brachos are recited, our manner of eating--and our manners! Remember-Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Somid applies at the kitchen or dining room table as well!



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



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



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

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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



3 Marcheshvan

TESHUVAH MOMENT: One must be especially careful when hearing the words “it’s only a d’rabanan”, or “it’s only an old minhag”. The Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:7) writes that the takanos of the chachomim and the fences they enacted are the “Yesod L’Derech HaYirah”—the basis for Yiras Shomayim…and the first things Hashem’s expects of us is Yiras Shomayim! (see Devorim 10:12). 





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


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


C.        Points and pointers on Hadlakas Neiros:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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



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


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


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



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


Hakhel Note:  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel L’Refuah Sheleimah) teaches that from the Pasuk Yehi Chevod Hashem L’Olam Yismach Hashem B’Ma’asav which we recite daily (Tehillim 104:31)--we learn that the way you can tell you have given Kavod to Hashem--is by acting in a way in which Hashem will be happy with your actions!



THE POWER OF OUR PRAYERS: HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, highlights just how powerful our prayers are.  In Pesukei DeZimra daily, we recite Tehillim Chapter 148, in which we exclaim “Hallelu Es Hashem Min HaShomayim...Praise Hashem from the Heavens, Praise Hashem all His  angels, Praise Hashem sun and moon, and all bright stars, Praise Hashem, the most exalted of heavens and the waters that are above the heavens....”  Think for a moment of what we are doing--we are actually ordering the heavens, the angels, the sun and stars all to praise Hashem!  We, mere ‘sons of man’, are actually empowered to tell these awesome and incomprehensible creations what to do!  Look at and appreciate the control and influence we wield with our prayers--and especially feel the joy and potential and clout of your tefillos when reciting this Kepitel as an extremely important preface to Birchos Kriyas Shema and Shemone Esrei!


Hakhel Note: The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 101, seif katan 1) urges everyone to at least regularly have Kavanna in the chasima of each bracha of Shemone Esrei (i.e., Baruch Atta Hashem…).  The remarkable Dirshu Edition notes to the Mishna Berura write that the source of his words are the Tur (ibid.). The Tur writes that if one adds up the number of words in the chasimos of the brachos of Shemone Esrei, he will count 113 words--which is the number of words in the Tefillas Chana, and which is also the number of times that the word Lev appears in the Torah.  The Bach adds that the chasima of every bracha--even of the middle brachos of bakasha--are all shevach, i.e., that Hashem is the Chonen Da’as, is the Go’el Yisrael, is the Rofeh Cholei Amo Yisrael--and it is better to have Kavannah in praising Hashem than in making requests of Hashem.



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



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



THE REMEDY: A senior Rav provided the following extremely practical teaching:


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


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


Here is a plan.


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


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



2 Marcheshvan

ALMOST 10%: As we have completed the month of Tishrei, we note that 7 2/3% of the year has passed…but that more than 90% of the year remains! We have much time to become better and better. Let us resolve to keep up with our Kabbalos--and slowly and steadily improve as the year continues!



TESHUVAH MOMENT: We learned in Parashas Bereishis that man was created B’Tzelem Elokim. The Sefer Tomer Devora, at its outset, teaches thatIkar Hatzelem V’Hademus HaElyonthe primary way in which we demonstrate our Tzelem Elokim is by following the 13 Middos of Hashem’s Rachamim in our own daily lives. HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, writes that when one does so he publicizes Hashem’s attributes, and is Mekadeish Sheim Shomayim B’rabbim.



BEREISHIS 3:7: The Pasuk in last week’s Parasha records that: “Vatipakachna Einei Sheneihem Vayeideu Ki Arumim Heim”. Fascinatingly, Rashi (ibid.) writes that the eyes that were opened refer to wisdom and not to actual sight. We suggest that it is no coincidence that in the Birchas HaShachar every morning we recite the bracha of “Pokeiach Ivrim”, and immediately follow with the bracha of Malbish Arumim--following the sequence of the Pasuk. Thus, in addition to the Kavannah of  thanking Hashem for giving us the miraculous ability of sight every day, we should recognize that Pokeiach Ivrim is also a bracha thanking Hashem for our powers of wisdom and discernment. Then, without Hashem as our Malbish Arumim, we would very literally be embarrassed in the eyes of each and every human being and creature.


Hakhel Note: How meaningful and powerful our Birchas HaShachar really are!



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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


A.  Yes, within the bracha.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



1 Marcheshvan

MARCHESHVAN VAAD: By the following audio link, we provide Rabbi Eliya Brudny, Shlita’s recent Va’ad




A TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Rabbeinu Yona (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:1) writes “V’Hateshuvah HaGedolah Havi…Gedolim Chikrei Lev--the magnitude of one’s repentance is commensurate with the magnitude of one’s heart searching”


Hakhel Note: Please remember our goal--Teshuvah Bechol Yom.  Please take a good look at your Kabalos Card--after all today is 30 days since Rosh Hashana!



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



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


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



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


Hakhel Note: Here is a basic mathematics question for Torah Jews:  If a man studies three Mishnayos, or a man or woman studies three Halachos, after Mincha or Ma’ariv, or perhaps before retiring for the evening, every day in the year 5779, how many Mishnayos or Halachos will he have learned by the end of the Year?  A more advanced question--if, instead, one begins this study on the first day of Marcheshvan--one month after 5779 has begun, and undertakes the same study until the first day of Marcheshvan of 5779--how many Mishnayos or Halachos has one studied?



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



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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



30 Tishrei

TESHUVAH MOMENT: Every day in Shemone Esrei we daven that Hashem bring us to do Teshuvah. In fact, Yirmiyahu HaNavi (31:17) exclaims: “Hashiveini V’Ashuvah Ki Atta Hashem Elokai”. As we recite our daily Tefillah for Teshuvah we should recall that we are echoing the words of Yirmiyahu HaNavi himself, pleading for Hashem’s assistance with Teshuvah!



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





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


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


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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



29 Tishrei

TESHUVAH MOMENT: “The Torah states ‘What does Hashem ask of you now?’—and not of someone else. Some people are expected right now to study Torah. Others are expected right now to do acts of kindness, etc. With this question in mind a person will find himself serving Hashem throughout his life, and will be able to overcome his Yetzer Hara.” [Excerpted from The Concise Ahavas Chesed The Classic Work of the Chofetz Chaim Adapted to a Daily Learning Schedule in English by Rabbi Asher Wasserman, Shlita]



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


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

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

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

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


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



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


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


The Rav responded by embracing the man and exclaiming, “Shalom aleichem, Reb Yid!”


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


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


In his memoirs, the man wrote that from that day on, “I began to feel like a Jew and act like a Jew. I refrained from certain sins forever, and I accepted upon myself to do certain Mitzvos.  I was reborn because the Ponovezher Rav greeted me and spoke to me!”


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



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 husband’s 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 man’s 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 woman’s money.  Noticing the puzzled look on that person’s 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

TESHUVAH MOMENT: The G’ra (Even Sheleimah 4:20) writes that the eitza for making sure one’s Teshuvah works going forward is Yiras Shomayim—to remember that Hashem’s glory fills the world, and that accordingly, Hashem watches over all of one’s actions. How, then, could one violate His will when directly in front of Him!



QUESTION OF THE DAY: In how many brachos of Shemone Esrei do we invoke Hashem’s Rachamim for us?





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.




HAKARAS HATOV! Appreciating what Hashem, and others, do for us may be the ‘Middah of the Coming Week’--as this week we learn that Adam HaRishon was a Kafui Tovah to Hashem for not recognizing the gift that Hashem had given him in a wife--and then in next week’s Parasha (Bereishis 10:5, Rashi d’h Bnei Ha’adam), we will find that the Anshei Dor Haflaga showed no thanks to Hashem for sparing their ancestors, themselves and their descendants from the Mabul. Let us bli neder commit to be most careful to thank, appreciate and compliment all those who deserve or even perhaps deserve Hakaras HaTov for what they have done for 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 daled minim, we can fulfill the words of the Rema (SA OC 297: 4) who rules that one should put hadasim leaves into his besamim. The Mishna Berurah explains with this we do a second Mitzvah with a Mitzvah object, which shows a special regard for the first Mitzvah and is accordingly an elevated Mitzvah performance (ibid., 298 seif katan 8).


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


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


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


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



SHABBOS BEREISHIS!  Shabbos Bereishis  is always a great experience, as we discover the birth of the world and the creation of man anew every year.  Many thoughts may cross through our mind as to how, why and when events happened, but they must be firmly rooted in the Emunah Peshuta that Hashem Was, Is, and Will Be, and that we will only understand some more when the Moshiach comes.  As we go on to study the other Parashios in Bereishis, we remind ourselves that the Torah is not, c’v, a history book, reminding us of the events of early Man. To the Torah Jew, history is not an interesting study, something that satisfies our curiosity as to past cultures and civilizations. Rather, it represents the continuing Hashgacha Pratis of Hashem to Whom “one thousand years is like one year” in his guidance and supervision of creation. The Navi teaches that, when the Moshiach comes, there will no longer be wars among people. The commentaries explain that this is so because the Moshiach will resolve all disputes among people, making war obsolete. It appears that we are living in a time of what the world would call “history in the making,” as all kinds of uncertainty stretches 6,000 miles from Eretz Yisrael to the United States. We should not view this as “history in the making,” but should instead utilize it as an advanced opportunity for coming closer to Hashem, and by replacing all of the secular analyses of current world events, or why the Arabs are rioting now, with an awareness of Hashem’s pervasive presence. It all brings us back to the first Siman in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim--Shivisi Hashem LeNegdi Samid--let us keep Hashem before us all the time as we navigate our course through these pages in the history books.



RAV SHACH ON BEREISHIS: 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!


DEAH AND DIBBUR:  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!!



LIVING IN THE WORLD TOGETHER:  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”(Bereishis 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-- 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!



QUESTIONS ON THE PARASHA: 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?





1.  On Simchas Torah, we sang Ain Segulah KaTorah--there is no Segulah like the Torah. HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita teaches that this is not merely a beautiful song but is to be taken quite literally. If one improves in some way in his actual Torah study--there is no segulah like it!


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


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


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


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


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


7. After Moshiach arrives, we will return to the state of Adam HaRishon before the cheit. We most certainly look forward to this occurring in 5779!  Everyone should review and have handy (if not memorized) the four brachos that HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl will be recited when the Moshiach arrives!



25 Tishrei

TESHUVAH MOMENT: As we learned in Koheles (9:8), Bechol Eis Yiheyu Begadecha Levanim—at all times should one’s clothes be white. One should think of the Mitzvos as the clothing of one’s soul—and consciously endeavor to do as many Mitzvos as he can during the day L’Sheim Mitzvah—for the sake of clothing his neshama in pure white!



IMPORTANT HALACHA 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 perseverance. The stakes are enormous--Deveikus for eternity. We can and do retain a ‘touch’ of Tishrei throughout the year by keeping our Kabalah or Kabalos with true dedication and zeal. What can we do, however, when the Yetzer opens up new fronts--areas of unexpected confrontation and challenge? We suggest that one resolves, on a daily basis, to do Teshuva immediately for an aveira that he realizes he has committed--immediately completing the three elements of Teshuva: (a) Charata-a feeling of mistake and remorse; (b) Kabala Ahl Ha’Asid-determining not to do the aveira again if and when it presents itself; and (c)Vidui--orally admitting the mistake--how wrong for an elevated being to do such a foolish thing before Hashem Himself. If one finds that the day has passed with no such process being necessary--how happy and joyous he should be! If one has to do Teshuva (perhaps quickly recording the day and what occurred)--how wonderfully he is keeping close--not letting the day pass without his special demonstration of yearning for Deveikus.  Every day can bring wonderful gains--forever and ever!



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 209th Yahrzeit of the Kedushas Levi (Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev), Z’tl, and the 179th 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

TESHUVAH MOMENT: 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!!



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 shemayisrael.co.il/kitzur.htm

or kitzuryomi.org



IMPORTANT REMINDER! We just 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.


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